State and federal lawmakers on Thursday sought ways of mitigating the impact of the pandemic that is threatening to engulf both first responders and the broader global economy.
At the federal level, U.S. Rep. Antonio Delgado introduced legislation meant to provide every small business with a qualified loan to help them keep afloat during the crisis. The move led to $17 billion in support for small businesses over the next six months.
Officials have sought to halt the spread of the coronavirus by order the closure of venues where people gather. In New York, bars and restaurants have been ordered to close, though they remain open for deliveries and to-go orders.
Still, the crisis has already led to thousands of layoffs.
“We have no time to waste to help small businesses and the millions of employees whose livelihoods are at stake right now," Delgado said. "The scale and speed of the federal government response will determine the future of independent restaurants, hotels, retailers, childcare centers, and so many other small businesses across the country.
Meanwhile, at the state level, lawmakers in the state Senate on Thursday announced a bill that is meant to aid volunteer firefighters and ambulance workers by including coronavirus under the Volunteer Firefighter/Ambulance Workers Benefits law. The law provides monetary support for volunteer first responders when they sustain an injury or die in the line of duty.
The measure adding the coronavirus to the legislation is backed by Democratic Sens. Monica Martinez and John Brooks.
“The brave men and women who respond to fires, natural disasters, pandemics, and all manner of other catastrophes must be protected,” Brooks said.
“These benefits make it possible for our volunteer first responders and their families to make it by when tragedy strikes. Therefore, they should be extended to include the current pandemic caused by the COVID-19 virus.”