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COVID aid not nearly enough for struggling families, businesses

Americans are already starting to see the $600 from the federal government as direct deposits in their bank accounts — a result of the $900 billion pandemic relief bill that Congress passed weeks ago and President Donald Trump eventually signed after complaining about certain parts of it.

It’s great to have some relief for people dealing with the economic effects of the coronavirus pandemic, but this bill falls short — too short — of what residents, schools, businesses, and local and state governments actually need to deal with the crisis.

Just look at the $600. It goes quickly once you start paying the bills that have piled up. For many who may be using that money to heat their homes with fuel oil, it’s essentially gone, and there may be enough left to only pay one or two smaller bills. This is the second check sent to Americans, half of what they got in the spring, and the crisis is only getting worse.

Congress passed the CARES Act with more than $2 trillion in aid to Americans on March 27, just after the pandemic was declared and while cases of COVID-19 across New York and the rest of the U.S. were spreading rapidly. It included direct payments of up to $1,200 per adult for individuals whose income was less than $99,000. It established the Paycheck Protection Program for small businesses. It also provided an additional $600 per week to people collecting regular unemployment compensation. The new bill only gives an additional $300 per week of unemployment support.

The aid will not be a stimulus, as many politicians call it, and it will only offer temporary relief for many families and small businesses. We support a call by the president and the House of Representatives to increase the relief checks to $2,000. Sadly, the Senate has yet to vote on the $2,000 proposal.

We hope a new, more realistic relief package will come soon after President-elect Joe Biden takes office on Jan. 20. And we hope the Senate will stop playing politics with people’s lives and give us real relief.