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  • Writer's pictureSenator Becca Rausch

Understanding the CARES Act: What the federal stimulus means for you

As of today, Tuesday, March 31, there are 6,620 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the Commonwealth. That’s an increase of more than 1,000 new cases just since yesterday (5,572 cases). Of today’s total, 738 cases are in Norfolk County, 306 are in Bristol County, and 1,340 are in Middlesex County. Until today, Middlesex County had the highest number of positive cases in the Commonwealth; now, Suffolk County has the highest number, at 1,373 positive cases. Nearly 47,000 people have been tested. A total of 89 Bay Staters have died. Additional COVID-19 statistics are provided by DPH. The number of positive cases is updated daily at 4pm. I’m sure many of you have questions about what the federal stimulus, known as the CARES Act, means for you and your community. The multi-trillion dollar stimulus will provide direct cash assistance to individuals and families, expand access to unemployment benefits, expand loans to small businesses, and bolster our healthcare infrastructure. 

Some key provisions include:

  • One-time direct payments: Individuals making up to $75,000 will receive $1,200. Married couples making up to $150,000 will receive a one-time direct payment of $2,400. (Smaller payments will be made to individuals making between $75,000 and $99,000, or married couples making between $150,000 and $198,000).  

  • Federally-funded unemployment will be available for 13 additional weeks, bringing the total time period of benefits for Massachusetts workers to 39 weeks. Unemployment benefits will increase by $600 per week for every American, and access to unemployment benefits is expanded to include part-time, self-employed, and gig economy workers.

  • $330 billion in emergency appropriations, including $100 billion to hospitals and health care providers. Additional funding will provide personal and protective equipment (PPE) to frontline health care workers, increase testing capacity, and finance construction of new housing for patients and emergency operation centers. 

  • Over $350 billion available in federally guaranteed Paycheck Protection Program loans to small businesses. Loan principal amounts will be forgiven for employers who maintain their payroll throughout the public health emergency, helping businesses to maintain current staff levels and prevent layoffs.  

I also wanted to share BIG SUCCESS on the charge I've been leading to ensure that people's water, sewer, and other essential services aren't shut off due to an inability to pay resulting from COVID-19. So many Bay Staters are in serious financial trouble right now due to a drastic reduction in hours, total furlough, or being laid off. I'm proud that we've taken at least one big worry off people's shoulders. The Senate passed the bill earlier today, and I was in the chamber as it happened.

Thank you to Senate President Karen E. Spilka, Ways and Means Chair Senator Michael Rodrigues, and their tremendous staffs for your leadership and partnership. Thank you also to the #BeccaBunch, and to my many colleagues in the Massachusetts State Senate who supported this important #equity work.




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