Mayor Fischer says federal COVID-19 relief bill will help Louisville, but much more needs to be done for cities
The global pandemic has brought much of the economy to a halt as millions of Americans are staying at home to avoid spreading the virus and overwhelming that nation’s hospitals.
“You may have already lost your job or your business, and you’re scared about what is happening. This relief package will ease some of the intense financial insecurity that this crisis has unleashed,” the Mayor said.
Mayor Fischer said his administration is reviewing the 900-page legislation as quickly as it can to determine exactly what it means for Louisville. But it’s clear, he said, that while the relief package is good news for residents and businesses, Congress needs to do more to help Louisville and other cities.
“As welcome as this is, this bill does not provide any funding to address the serious budget challenge that our city and cities across America will be facing as a result of the COVID-19 crisis,” the Mayor said. “I will continue to work with other mayors from across the country to push Congress to include aid to cities in future legislations.”
Here are some immediate takeaways:
Cash payments: Most people who earn less than $75,000 will get a one-time cash payment of $1,200. A married couple would each receive a check, and if you have children, you’ll get $500 per child. The cash payments are based on your most recent tax filing in 2018 or 2019.
Extra unemployment payments: The bill increases unemployment benefits, extending them, expanding them and making more people eligible including part-time workers, freelancers and gig economy workers. The state has also taken similar steps to help people who have lost their jobs due to COVID-19.
Help for small businesses: Businesses with fewer than 500 employees, including independent contractors, people who are self-employed, and nonprofit, can apply for:
- Emergency grants up to $10,000 to pay for payroll, mortgage, rent, and other operating expenses.
- Express loans of up to $1 million for eligible borrowers as defined by the Small Business Administration.
- Forgivable loans up to $10 million through a Paycheck Protection Program to cover up to eight weeks of expenses, including payroll, employee paid sick leave, employee. healthcare, utilities, rent, interest on a mortgage, and interest on other debt obligations.
- Businesses that have laid off employees can use funding through the Paycheck Protection Program to rehire those employees.
- If you are an existing SBA loan holder, the federal relief bill also includes up to six months of debt relief for existing SBA loans.
Student loans: If you have a federally owned student loan, the loan and interest payments will be deferred through Sept. 30 without penalty.
Insurance: The bill requires private insurers to cover COVID-19 treatments and makes all coronavirus tests free.
The timetable for money to show up in the mailbox is uncertain, though U.S. Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin said he expects most individuals to get their payments within three weeks.
“The bill also provides some support for education and for state and local government to fight the spread of the virus, which is much needed,” the Mayor said. “I thank the members of Congress for their work on this. This is an important step forward, but there will be more work to do and more help needed in the weeks and months ahead.”
Data shows that Louisvillians are “social distancing”
The Mayor was cheered by data that indicates Louisville is getting the message about “social distancing.”
Health experts believe the practice – in which we stay home as much as possible and maintain a 6-foot distance between each other when we must go out – is key to reducing the spread of COVID-19.
The tech company Unacast, which normally collects and analyzes cellphone data for businesses, is now using it to give communities a social distancing “score” based on how much people there are moving around. Between February 28 and March 21, Louisville scored an A with a 42 percent decrease in mobility.
“That means our community is once again leading the way,” Mayor Fischer said. “We are asking a lot of ourselves and making huge sacrifices right now, but this shows we are up to the challenge. So, let’s all stay home, stay healthy, and beat this virus.”
With some businesses still operating to provide food and needed supplies, Mayor Fischer said that it’s imperative that we help protect employees and customers from COVID-19.
If you run a business that is still operating right now, you can go to the city’s website and download a printable sign that warns your employees to stay out if they are feeling sick or have been sick in the past 24 hours.
“We’re consistently hearing through Metro 311 that some businesses are still operating as if we’re not in the middle of a crisis,” the Mayor said. “We’re asking businesses to download and post these signs in workplaces to help people understand what they need to do to be as safe as possible at work. This is critical.”
Online town hall Saturday
Mayor Fischer will answer questions from the community during a Q&A on Facebook at 10 a.m. Saturday.
He’ll be joined by Dr. Jon Klein, Vice Dean for Research at the U of L School of Medicine and an expert in microbiology and immunology.
Go to Facebook.com/MayorGregFischer to join the conversation.
As part of the Mayor’s Lift Up Lou initiative to boost spirits, entertain, educate, and provide health and exercise options, Louisville Orchestra Music Director Teddy Abrams will perform a rolling concert on Saturday in Lift Up Lou’s On the Go van.
“Teddy is a brilliant artist and performer, and he has done amazing work to help lift this city’s mood in good times and in bad,” the Mayor said. “You might see him traveling around the city on Saturday, so wave and say hi – from a social distance.”
Abrams and the On the Go van will be going to senior citizen centers so residents can listen through their windows, and through neighborhoods where the houses are close together.
“We are trying to step up and do our part,” Abrams said. “We’re going to try to bring some music to the people. I can’t solve the medical situation, but hopefully I can spread some joy through music.”
Report establishments that won’t comply with COVID-19 shutdown
Although essential businesses like groceries, pharmacies, and restaurants that provide takeout meals are staying open, some businesses have been defying the order to close or curtail their activities.
If you see establishments that refuse to comply, you can report violators several ways:
State of Kentucky – 1-833-KY-SAFER / 1-833-597-2337 (tollfree)
City of Louisville – Metro311
Due to an increased volume of phone calls, city officials are asking residents to contact Metro311 via the web if possible. Your complaints will still be addressed, and your questions will be answered.