March 9, 2020 By Allie Griffin
A bill introduced by Queens Representative Grace Meng to assist small businesses harmed by fears of the coronavirus outbreak became law last week — as part of a $8.3 billion emergency spending package.
The bill, also sponsored by New York Rep. Nydia Velázquez and California Rep. Judy Chu, allows small businesses economically burdened by the outbreak and resulting hysteria to access Economic Injury Disaster Loans of up to $2 million.
The interest-free loans cover operating expenses and other costs that would otherwise have been met if it weren’t for the virus’ spread.
Last month — before New York City had any known cases of coronavirus — the Flushing Chinese Business Association estimated that business was down as much as 40 percent in the Flushing neighborhood.
Rep. Meng, the First Vice Chair of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus (CAPAC), said she has heard from many Asian American-owned small business owners in her district that are “severely struggling” from concerns over the coronavirus.
Under the new law, the Small Business Administration (SBA) could receive up to $7 billion in funding to provide loans to small businesses that are suffering due to the coronavirus outbreak.
The spending package also includes more than $3 billion for research and development of vaccines and diagnostics and $300 million to ensure access to affordable vaccines.
It also provides $2.2 billion in public health funding for prevention, preparedness and response —including $950 million to support state and local health agencies, and nearly $1 billion for medical supplies, community health centers and medical surge capacity.
The package also provides $1.25 billion to address the coronavirus abroad.
Way to go, Representative Meng!
Way to go, President Trump and Representative Meng!