Senator calls for urgent action to combat virus’s impact on economy
Sen. Mitt Romney in a conference call with Utah reporters Monday regarding the COVID-19 coronavirus disease outbreak said he would recommend immediately providing every American adult a $1,000 check to help ensure families and workers can meet their short-term obligations and also to give the economy a shot in the arm.
The stipend for March, if ultimately approved, would cost an estimated $100 billion. The senator said it was possible the checks could be sent out once a month, if necessary.
He originally suggested a cap of which Americans would be eligible for the money of perhaps $80,000 in annual earnings, but that cutoff was removed amid criticism from his fellow senators. He instead suggested people who don’t need an extra $1,000 to donate it to a charity or to a hard-hit family.
He also proposed providing grants to qualified small businesses, such as restaurants, bakeries, gyms and others that have been affected by the outbreak.
He made it clear businesses would not have to pay back any payments, reasoning it would do no good to add to their debt.
Romney said it would likely be necessary to lend financial help to major industries, such as airlines and hotels. “Airlines need help. We can’t let them go out of business. This isn’t poor management. This was an act of nature,” he said.
Romney said the federal government’s highly criticized response to the outbreak does not solely rest on the Trump administration, but also on Congress as well as past administrations. “This is a failing of government,” he said.
Romney also asked residents to quit panic buying.
Romney appeared to be taken aback when informed Moab was full of tourists after the government and Salt Lake Tribune in an article published Friday, March 13, encouraged people to visit Utah’s national parks as a way to avoid large gatherings.
However, few people who visit Arches or Canyonlands drive back home without stopping in Moab for good, gas and other items. Roughly 1,900 visitors entered Arches on Monday.
Help for Pell Grant recipients
Students who were provided Pell Grants at Utah State University Moab and elsewhere in the U.S. would be eligible for increased funds to cover the “unexpected costs” related to unplanned travel, housing and storage needs in order to “more accurately reflect the current reality for students.”
Romney also called for deferring student loan payments for recent college graduates.
Improved telehealth services
Romney said in order to protect the workforce; insurance companies should be required to temporarily cover telehealth services related to COVID-19. The federal government would then reimburse insurers.