Uncle Sam steps up with helping hand for virus-idled workers

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Economic help for workers and businesses moved a step closer early Wednesday when U.S. Senators reached agreement on a $2 trillion coronavirus relief bill. A final vote is expected Wednesday afternoon, and the bill will then move to the U.S. House of Representatives.

In provisions of the bill, according to NBC News reporters Lauren Egan and Julie Tsirkin, workers making up to $75,000 a year will see checks for $1,200, and couples making $150,000 will receive $2,400, with an additional $500 per child.

Along with the direct aid to individuals, the bill is also expected to include about $100 billion in assistance for hospitals, more than $350 billion in loans to small businesses, $500 billion in aid for corporations and about $150 billion in stimulus funds for states and local governments, according to Egan and Tsirkin.

Unemployment insurance will also be enhanced under the bill, with increased payments and extended benefit for workers who do not typically qualify for support, such as gig economy workers, furloughed employees and freelancers.

The relief comes to an American economy rocked by a global viral pandemic. Nationwide, more than 33,000 cases of COVID-19 have been reported, and more than 400 people have died. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) remains the leading resource in the U.S. for national information, precautions and guidelines. In Iowa 124 confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus were reported by the Iowa Department of Public Health as of Tuesday.

For workers and businesses seeking help, the Iowa Workforce Development website contains information on unemployment for both employers and employees. Small businesspeople in Iowa also have opportunities for one-on-one business counseling and other help, with the IA Source Link and the Iowa Center for Economic Success providing lists of resources for businesses seeking assistance and support and the Main Street Alliance and Main Street America supporting websites dedicated to businesses seeking resources.

The city of Perry has devoted a page on the city website to keep residents informed of local public health and commercial conditions. The site offers city information about online utility payments, Perry Public Library services, Perry Parks and Recreation registrations and building permits.

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