What You Need to Know About the Coronavirus Priority Action Act

On Wednesday, March 18, President Trump signed into law HR 6201, also known as the Home Family Coronavirus Act . I’ll just quote a summary of the account, instead of trying to summarize it myself:

The bill responds to the coronavirus outbreak by providing paid sick leave and free coronavirus testing, expanding food aid and unemployment benefits, and requiring employers to provide additional protection for healthcare workers.

Specifically, the Coronavirus Response Act primarily for families includes the following provisions:

  • Additional funding for the Special Supplementary Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC) and additional flexibility for recipients of the Supplemental Nutrition Program (SNAP)
  • Additional funding for emergency food assistance, including special assistance for children who may depend on school lunch programs
  • Supplemental funding for health services in India
  • Additional funding for service programs for the elderly and disabled
  • Additional funding for veterans’ healthcare
  • Extended unemployment benefit
  • Extended Family Sick Leave Act (FMLA) benefits
  • Emergency paid sick leave for selected categories of employees
  • Full coverage of the cost of testing for COVID-19 (costs will be covered by the insurer or government)

However, the fact that these provisions are included in the bill does not mean that everyone is secured. For example, not all of us will be eligible for paid sick leave. As the Washington Post points out:

The law extends paid sick leave for workers who are diagnosed with COVID-19, a disease caused by the new coronavirus, or are in quarantine. However, the guarantee only applies to employers with 50 to 500 employees. There are few companies of this size in many major industries.

[…]

Only 12 percent of workers in major industries work for companies that will be guaranteed account coverage. The problem is particularly acute for general goods companies such as Target and Walmart. According to the latest Census Bureau estimates , 98 percent of workers in the commodity industry work in a business too large to qualify for paid sick leave under the new law.

It is also worth mentioning that, as the bill itself says (and yes, I read everything), “this law will come into force no later than 15 days after the date of entry into force of this law.”

So if you get sick before April 1 (or maybe April 2, depending on how they think it is), you may not be eligible for free COVID-19 testing or emergency sick leave.

But I hope you don’t get sick. Stay away from social media, keep washing your hands and check the latest coronavirus updates.

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