Just before midnight Eastern Time Wednesday, the U-S Senate passed the huge $2 trillion coronavirus stimulus compromise package. The bill now heads to the House of Representatives which hopes to approve it by Friday.
If passed by the House, this bill would provide one-time direct payments of $1,200 per adult making up to $75,000 a year, and $2,400 to married couples making up to $150,000, with $500 payments per child. After a $75,000 threshold for individuals, the payout would be reduced by $5 for each $100 the taxpayer earns. A $150,000 threshold applies to couples, and a $112,500 threshold for heads of households.
The bill passed by the Senate will use 2019 tax returns, if available, or 2018 tax returns to assess income for determining how much direct financial aid individuals receive.
The package will provide $250 billion to extend unemployment insurance to more workers, and lengthen the duration to 39 weeks, up from the normal 26 weeks. $600 extra a week would be provided for four months.
The bill also provides $349 billion in loans to small businesses. The money spent on rent, payroll and utilities become grants that don’t need to be paid back. Several hotel operations would qualify as small businesses under the bill.
Huntsville memorial Hospital Emergency Room Medical Director, Dr. Stephen Antwi, reported to Facebook that given the recent confirmed positive case of COVID 19 for a resident of Walker County, and in an effort to further safeguard their healthcare workers, and the larger Walker County community from unnecessary exposure and spread of the Coronavirus, Huntsville Memorial Hospital (HMH) has instituted a first contact triage process. HMH HAS NOT set up an external COVID 19 testing facility.
All patients presenting to HMH with acute respiratory symptoms and meeting the proposed CDC surveillance criteria will be evaluated by a healthcare provider who will determine if testing is warranted. Individuals presenting WITHOUT SYMPTOMS, regardless of exposure history WILL NOT BE TESTED, by the HMH Emergency Department.
Once again the recommendation by the CDC and Governor Abbott is that everyone should continue to maintain social distancing, and remain home under self-quarantine if they have minor symptoms and or potential Coronavirus exposure with no symptoms.
Dr. Antwi said they remain committed to providing quality healthcare to the larger Walker County and surrounding communities, and ask that every citizen do their part by remaining home if they are asymptotic, or have minor symptoms and therefore decreasing the potential of self-exposure, and further spread of the Coronavirus, COVID 19.
Also, from the Walker County Office of Emergency Management, we have a report that “Walker County ordered test kits several weeks ago and are waiting for the state to fill that request so we can test here. Information will be provided as we receive it.”
The KatSafe system at Sam Houston State University reported Wednesday: “Officials at Sam Houston State University learned today that an employee tested positive for COVID-19 in Montgomery County.
“This individual worked at an off-campus location and has not been in the office for more than a week.
“All health and safety measures are being followed.”
Because of recent Coronavirus restrictions, the Huntsville ISD Board of Trustees on Tuesday held a meeting closed to in-person public attendance but broadcast live on YouTube.
During the meeting, Superintendent Dr. Scott Sheppard publicly praised the efforts of all those who have persevered during this coronavirus crisis . . . .
He also specifically thanked HISD’s Communications Department and Technology Department for setting up the YouTube broadcast.
These are challenging times for businesses all over the nation. The Texas Comptroller’s office knows that during periods of economic hardship, paying or remitting taxes and fees on time can feel like an extra burden when there’s so much uncertainty. We’re thankful to those businesses that were able to remit state and local sales taxes they collected from customers in February on the March 20, 2020, due date.
We understand that virtually all of our taxpayers are doing their best to remain in compliance and be responsible in submitting the taxes they collected from their customers. With that in mind, our agency is here to offer assistance to those businesses that are struggling to pay the full amount of sales taxes they collected in February.
For businesses that find themselves in this situation, our agency is offering assistance in the form of short-term payment agreements and, in most instances, waivers of penalties and interest.
We ask that you contact our Enforcement Hotline at 800-252-8880 to learn about your options for remaining in compliance and avoiding interest and late fees on taxes due.
In addition, we have a variety of online tools for businesses seeking assistance. See our COVID-19 emergency response webpage for access to online tools, tutorials and other resources for tax services, and to establish 24/7 online account access with Webfile.
We’re standing by to help Texas businesses during these difficult times.
PRESIDENT AND THE SENATE AGREE ON $2 TRILLION CORONAVIRUS PACKAGE — AWAITING HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVE APPROVAL
Shortly after midnight, the Trump Administration and Senate leaders came to a deal on the huge Phase #3, $2 trillion, coronavirus relief package. Approval by the House of Representatives of the plan remains the last hurdle.
Because of the current coronavirus pandemic and closure of local HISD schools through at least April 6th, the Huntsville ISD Board of Trustees met in a session last night without in-person public attendance and observing the proper distance spacing from one another, while broadcasting their meeting live on YouTube.
One of the items on the agenda required approval of a resolution for compensation of wages during the COVID-19 closure of schools.
Superintendent, Dr. Scott Sheppard, addressed the need to pass the resolution . . . .
Trustee Langley asked the Superintendent what “premium” meant . . . .
The resolution was approved.
Dr. Sheppard said the premium pay might be reimbursed by FEMA.
White House Coronavirus Coordinator Dr. Deborah Birx, during Monday’s Coronavirus briefing, briefly outlined what’s guiding their future decisions regarding dealing with COVID-19 here in the United States . . . .
In a Fox news virtual town hall Tuesday, President Trump said he “would love to have the country opened up and just raring to go by Easter.” Easter falls on April 12th this year.
There are objections to this at present, of course. For example, Wyoming Representative Liz Cheney tweeted, “There will be no normally functioning economy if our hospitals are overwhelmed, and thousands of Americans of all ages, including our doctors and nurses, lay dying because we have failed to do what’s necessary to stop the virus.”
While many events have been canceled or postponed because of coronavirus prevention measures, one Huntsville church group is planning an event which they believe can help the community recover from some of the hardships that those measures may be causing.
President of the St. Vincent de Paul St. Thomas the Apostle Conference, Kathy Price, said that the society’s Friends of the Poor Walk/Run is scheduled for 8:30 a.m. April 25.
She said that 99 percent of the people served by the society are not St. Thomas parishioners. On an average during the last year, she said, the society helped 43 individuals per month, dispensing $4,000.
Price said the society provides emergency aid combined with referrals to appropriate counseling agencies, filling in the gaps in services provided by local community and self-help programs. Many of those who are helped are disabled. Some of their problems include such things as gasoline needed for transportation to travel to medical appointments and to work, utility bills, rent, and food.
Registration forms may be picked up and dropped off at or mailed to the church office, addressed to St. Vincent de Paul Society, 1603 Avenue N, Huntsville, TX 77340, or given to a St. Vincent de Paul volunteer. Unlike previous years, participants and donors to this year’s walk can register online at fopwalk.com.
We got a chance to talk with Huntsville City Councilmember and Mayor Pro-Tem Joe Rodriguez last week.
There are bond projects underway. We asked him how they were going . . . .