Congress Passes CARES Act; Governor Lee Issues “Safer-at-Home” Order

U.S. State Capitol

Last week, Congress presented and passed the third COVID-19 relief package. The $2 trillion historic Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act will provide economic relief for millions of Americans in a number of capacities including small businesses, health care, education, among others. Projections estimate Tennessee could receive approximately $3 billion of those funds.

The bipartisan effort introduced by Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky) and Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-California) allocates more than $30 billion toward education, with more than $14 billion allocated to higher education institutions that will directly support students facing urgent needs under the pandemic such as food, housing, and healthcare, among others. The funds will also be used to support higher education institutions to assist with lost revenue through campus closures and other disruptions.

In March, President Donald Trump announced he will waive all student loan interest rates and will halt federal student loan payments for six months in an effort to alleviate financial burdens of student borrowers.

On Sunday, President Trump announced next steps for the country as the United States surpassed China over the weekend in the number of confirmed cases of COVID-19. Along with the Coronavirus Taskforce, President Trump extended the social distancing guidelines until April 30, with hopeful comments that the country could return to a sense of normalcy by June.

There are reports indicating a fourth and perhaps a fifth coronavirus relief package may be led by Speaker Pelosi, which could include state and local tax deduction and infrastructure language. The language has yet to be released of those potential packages and Congress is not set to reconvene until at least April 20, 2020.

Tennessee Governor Bill Lee issued a “safer-at-home” Executive Order this week that urges Tennesseans to stay at home when at all possible. The order took effect on Tuesday, March 31 at 11:59 pm and will continue through April 14 at 11:59 pm. Executive Order 21 amended Executive Order 17 to include the required closure of businesses that cannot operate safely such as recreational facilities (arcades, concert venues, movie theaters, among others) and close-contact services (hair salons, massage therapy services, nail salons, among others) effective immediately through April 14 at 11:59 pm.

The Tennessee Department of Health is also working to provide greater detail in the COVID-19 positive case numbers in the state of Tennessee by providing an outlook of cases across the state starting including the number of recoveries, deaths, and hospitalizations due to the virus by county as a measure for Tennesseans to be better informed.

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