By Harrison Arubu
New York, April 22, 2020
The United States Senate on Tuesday passed an additional coronavirus relief package worth $484 billion (N181 trillion) to address emerging public health and economic challenges occasioned by the pandemic.
Specifically, this will replenish a depleted loan package for small businesses and provide funds for hospitals and coronavirus (COVID-19) testing and treatment.
The unanimous approval followed marathon bipartisan negotiations between Democrats and the administration of President Donald Trump.
It came barely a month after the $2 trillion (N827 trillion) economic stimulus enacted by the government in March 27.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that $349 billion (N131 trillion) allocated to small businesses as loan in the first package fell sharply short of applications from distressed businesses.
The additional fund comprises $381 billion (N143 trillion) as soft loan for small businesses, $75 billion (N28 trillion) for hospitals and $25 billion (N9 trillion) for national coronavirus testing.
It has been sent to the House of Representatives for final passage later this week before it goes to the White House for presidential assent.
NAN reports that the U.S. economy has been badly hit by the pandemic, which has killed no fewer than 43,000 Americans.
No fewer than 22 million people have lost their jobs as states shut down and imposed stay-at-home rules to slow the spread of the virus.
President Trump is currently pushing for reopening of the economy and recently issued a three-phase plan to guide states in the process.
Some states have started reopening, but key areas of their economies will remain shut for weeks.(