Stimulus checks, expanded unemployment coming soon

Some could begin seeing $1,200 checks from feds as soon as next Monday.

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Congressman Bill Keating, shown here on a visit to The Times in 2017, helped expedite aid to the SSA. - Stacey Rupolo

Qualifying Americans should begin seeing individual checks and unemployment expansion in the coming week, according to the delegation from the Massachusetts House of Representatives.

U.S. Congress members held a teleconference call Wednesday afternoon to discuss the $2 trillion stimulus package signed by President Donald Trump on Friday. The package will send $1,200 checks directly to many Americans, significantly expand unemployment benefits and eligibility, and establish a small business loan fund.

One of the major parts of the package is the disaster loan assistance through the Small Business Administration.

U.S. Rep. Bill Keating, D-Bourne, said his district of southern Massachusetts and the Cape and Islands has been particularly hard hit and that the small business grants would only keep businesses afloat. “The layoffs have already occured for most of the hospitality industry because all the events have been canceled throughout this period through the summer,” Keating said. “The restaurants and bars are all closed.” “This is a seasonal industry,” Keating continued. “They make their money in the shoulder seasons. Unlike so many other small businesses in the country, if they don’t make their money in the late spring, summer, and early fall — they’re out of business.”

Keating said businesses can apply for disaster loan assistance by going to covid19relief.sba.gov/#/.

On Monday, Gov. Charlie Baker said the expansion of unemployment benefits under the CARES act will make self-employed, contract, and 1099 form workers eligible for benefits, but added the state has not received guidance from the federal government on how to implement the expansion. 

During the teleconference call, U.S. Rep. Katherine Clark, said Congress is pushing the Department of Labor to get information to states as soon as possible. “We anticipate they will have this within the next few days, but we are working and pushing them because we know how critical this funding is.” Clark echoed comments Baker made that if you were not eligible for unemployment before the CARES act, do not apply for it now until there is clear guidance from the state.

Direct deposit payments to people who qualify for the $1,200 could begin as soon as April 7, according to Clark.

Robert Arcudi, an Island accountant, told The Times the bill will be based on a person’s adjusted gross income for their 2018 tax return. Payments are lowered $5 for every additional $100 in income over $75,000 for singles, $112,500 for heads of household, and $150,000 for married couples filing jointly, according to Arcudi. A single adult earning $85,000 would get $700.

Massachusetts is expected to receive more than $3.8 billion in funding calculated by formulas through the stimulus package. The state is also going to receive additional funds from programs at the discretion of federal agencies, but they said that amount is difficult to quantify.

Meanwhile, The Martha’s Vineyard Hospital continues to test patients with symptoms. As of Wednesday, the hospital has collected 113 test samples. There have been 89 negative test results and 16 pending. Eight tests have come back positive. The number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 on the Island are at nine following a symptomatic diagnosis on Tuesday. 

On Wednesday, the Department of Public Health (DPH) released its daily count of confirmed cases and deaths due to COVID-19, showing 1,118 new cases in Massachusetts for a total confirmed case count of 7,738. Thirty-three new deaths brought the state total to 122. More than 51,000 people in the state have been tested. (The chart still connects Dukes and Nantucket counties showing 11 cases between the two, an indication that the DPH stats are behind.)

Courts remain closed through May 4

In an order superseding any previous orders, the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court extended strict limits on courthouse access until at least May 4 in light of the ongoing pandemic. The Massachusetts trial court system also set up a helpline for non emergency matters and for general questions.

 “All trials, whether jury or bench, in both criminal and civil cases, scheduled to begin in Massachusetts state courts on or before May 1, 2020, are continued to a date no earlier than May 4, 2020,” a release states, “unless the trial is a bench trial in a civil matter and may be conducted otherwise than in-person by agreement of the parties and of the court.”

Courthouses will be closed to public access “except to conduct emergency hearings that cannot be resolved virtually,” the release states. 

 “All court clerks’, registers’, and recorder’s offices shall continue to conduct court business — to accept the filing of pleadings and other documents in emergency matters, to schedule and facilitate hearings in emergency matters, to issue orders in emergency matters, to answer questions from attorneys, litigants, and the general public, and to conduct other necessary business of the respective court,” the release states. “All such business will be conducted virtually, except when the filing of pleadings and other documents in emergency matters cannot be accomplished virtually.”

 On April 2, the trial court system will launch a helpline for non-emergency matters and general questions regarding civil and criminal cases and to aid callers in their navigation of the court system.

“The Help Line will be staffed from 8:30 am to 4:30 pm, Monday through Friday, and can be reached by calling 833-91COURT,” the release states. 

Rich Saltzberg contributed to this story.

36 COMMENTS

  1. Keating is totally useless and no friend to island Veterans. Cant you Dems find anybody else to replace him?

    • Hey tiz, just curious,what does your opinion of Congressmen Keating have to do with this article?

  2. $1200 a person is diddly-squat when you think of not only the COLA (cost of living; sorry, militarily veteran) on the Cape and Islands, but also the cost of everything else. I get it; companies bring jobs and therefore money. But, they should also put INTO the system like we do…if not, more. We are now forced (and I get it) to stay at home because of a government mandate. Which means, we should all be reimbursed the money we are out because of the mandate. Why are large corporations being given a boat load of money when a majority of them are tax exempt because (well, let’s be honest…the rich look out for the rich) Companies (which are now apparently “people”, have the $$ influence?) are offshoring their accounts to hide their income? My tax dollars shouldn’t pay for a bailout for cruise/airline industries/Boeing/other tax dodgers which benefit from their financial/tax status. I’m sorry your billion/trillion $$ industry has suffered, but I (We) suffer more. Maybe you (companies) should have paid into the system to receive system funds? This won’t happen though. Americans are too entrenched in a system which takes as much as it can yet gives as little as possible (because of Capitalism). We are brainwashed into thinking otherwise. Which is extremely sad when you look at other westernized countries with much better Education/healthcare systems as ours.

    • The diddly squat amount was figured by using the federal minimum wage of $7.25/hour multiplied to a one month’s salary based on a 40 hour work week. They rounded it up from eleven hundred-something to $1200. Many people think the federal minumum wage should be raised to $15/hour. Imagine what that could have meant to so many who have lost their income if the stimulus checks were based on a more reasonable minimum wage of $15/hour.

      • Even at $15/hr, it’s a sad figure for anyone forced to stay at home. I can only imagine how much companies are spending now on BS ads I’ve Seen and heard….in just the last few minutes on TV…saying how they care for “us” during this difficult time; yet they are the same companies basically extorting money from Americans by saying we “need” them in order for our economy to survive and therefore they deserve a bailout. Ridiculous.

        • Yes, of course. Minimum wage is a point to remember, though, when we are in recovery. It is impossibly difficult to survive on $7.25 an hour. Dems and a Repubs know this but Repubs don’t care. And that’s why our stimulus checks are less than diddly squat. Hang in there.

        • PS I just read that 6.6 million people applied for unemployment benefits last week. This is a financial disaster for all of us.

          • “PS I just read that 6.6 million people applied for unemployment benefits last week.”

            Actually, 6.65 million American first-time jobless benefits were filed last week and 10 million for the whole month of March (please be updated, ma’am). No one can argue that coronavirus is a financial disaster for all of us, yet, the market was up quite a bit after this news. Thanks to the American people and Donald (oil). But, be careful tomorrow (employment numbers). Never, never sell your aapl.
            When this clears, the economy and the stock market are going to skyrocket so quickly and so high that it’ll make your head spin. Don’t miss your opportunity.
            It will make the fast recovery after 911 look like a turtle. Try to be positive in these horrendous times! Geez.

          • And try not to die or lose a loved one in the interim, Barrel. You sound like you think you and yours are immune. Also, try not to let your kids starve and lose your house or car while you wait around for your big opportunity.

  3. Raise your hand if you are ready for the same 5 people to go on the same political rants as every other post here…

    • “Raise your hand if you are ready for the same 5 people to go on the same political rants…”

      Exactly edgn (insert “hyenic” laughter here)!

      People with superior brain skills (definitely not me…) would never waste their time in this forum. Chiefly because, theirs’ are not the minds of children. And again, people with superior brain skills don’t waste time.

      Sophomoric ramblings, child-like anger, erroneous “facts” peppered with improper grammar and misspellings. All sprinkled in and tossed about. Plebe salad. Enjoy. Yummy…..

      The true brainy elders are howling whilst they mock the ne’er-do-wells. They understand most here pen mere slop (me included).

  4. The current crisis has left many of us stuck at home with not enough to do. Expect more sophomoric diatribe from the usual, and some new suspects. By the time this is over we may all be running around in ever decreasing square circles. Better this forum than driving around smashing stuff up.

    • I would like to ask all commenters to keep comments brief, otherwise it will lead to long gaps in moderating. We are juggling a tremendous amount of news and will simply skip long comments as a result.

      • I apologize. In no way would I want to make things harder. The Times is doing an incredible and heroic job in doing what is essential for all of us.

    • “ Expect more sophomoric diatribe from the usual…”

      Right on cue, sir. You cannot make this up!

    • Your emotional outbursts are in no way an accurate judgement of what has transpired at the government level. Only after the crisis and all the facts are known will a true evaluation take place. BTW, you should rejoice in the leeway George gives you in name calling – I could never get away with calling anyone a murderer.

      • ” BTW, you should rejoice in the leeway George gives you in name calling…”

        Agreed, but George may share the same mentality with me, on this:
        Consider the source.

      • Why don’t you give us your version of what has transpired if reality is not on your radar, Hanley? Trump is responsible for deaths that would not have occurred had he heeded the warnings from scientists and intelligence. Are you proud of how trump has handled this lethal crisis? Everyone will be touched by this emotionally and financially, even if you don’t realize it yet.

    • “Confusion is always the most honest response.“

      – Marty Indik

      Your honesty is appreciated.

    • hanley– I am stuck at home with the rest of us, but I had a secret strategy to avoid boredom years in the making. I simply never finished anything, and put off everything.. Now, even with my usual procrastination habits in place, I am actually getting things done..

  5. “PS I just read that 6.6 million people applied for unemployment benefits last week. This is a financial disaster for all of us.”

    “US stocks closed higher and snapped a two-day losing streak on Thursday.
    Investors shrugged off the largest number of initial jobless claims in history. Gains were driven by energy stocks, which rallied on soaring oil prices after President Donald Trump called for production cuts.”
    -CNN “lamestream” media

    • You know, people can’t pay their rent/mortgage and worry about how to feel their family after losing their job from the shuttered businesses. Your concern for humanity is touching.

      • I am at work right now. I took yesterday off. I start mornings at 7 AM. I usually work on an hourly basis and sometimes contractually. I leave my house and go directly to work I have contact with NO ONE.
        If I were not working, I would be finding other ways to make money. eBay, for example.

        Our family is fine and we are all staying positive. Enjoy your day and stay safe.

          • “A crisis always does expose what people are made of.”

            That may be true in your case. Not mine.
            In my case, a crisis will bring out what I, or others are made of. I am made of an extremely strong work ethic, among other beautiful things.

            However, if there was even one person working where I am working presently, I would never work there. In that case, I would go to my house and work, or, volunteer to help my neighbors and friends, as I do regularly. Outside! I am happier when I am working.

            Lunch break is over.

            -Hope this helps :-^

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