Utah’s Economic Task Force Answers Many Pressing COVID-19 Questions


Utah Governor Gary Herbert

The Utah Economic Task Force hosted a virtual conference on Tuesday afternoon in order to provide an update on the status of efforts to mitigate the economic impact from COVID-19. Senator Mitt Romney was welcomed to speak and discuss the elements of the bill that they are hopeful is soon to be passed.

Congress came to an agreement on a $2 trillion aid package for workers, businesses and health care late Tuesday evening. The plan calls to send a $1,200 check to every adult and $500 per child. A vote on the plan is scheduled for Wednesday.

There are three parts, according to Sen. Romney, with the first being for individuals, which is the task force that he is on. There is a set amount available per adult with an additional $500 per child. Those that are receiving the funds will get them from the IRS as soon as possible, though it may take a couple of weeks for the system to send them out. Sen. Romney listed those on social security, veterans, other applicants and more are those that should expect a check, remarking that overwhelmingly, the population will receive them. This purpose is for the money to be in pockets when the economy opens once more.

Also reported was that the unemployment insurance rate is going to go from the fixed number that it is now to the full amount of an individual’s salary, ranging up to around $65,000 a year. This amount is almost doubling the unemployment insurance benefits.

Part two related to small businesses. Those that have 500 employees and less will be able to visit a bank and receive a loan that is approximately two and a half times their pay amount to continue to pay employees and rent as well as cover a few other qualified purposes. If the funds are used for these purposes, the loans will be forgiven. To qualify, a small business must prove that they have been impacted by COVID-19. Complete details are still being determined.

Larger businesses may also receive loans, though the terms are uncertain at this point. There has been some discussion as to whether they should be grants or loans that are also forgiven. Some believe that they should be at market rates from before the crisis hit. Sen. Romney encouraged all of Utah to keep record of what is being affected as well as revenues. He could not confirm when the bill would pass, though he stated that indications from both sides is that it would.

Next up, Governor Gary Herbert spoke, beginning by expressing that these are unchartered waters and unique times. He requested to have the funds that are coming to Utah as a block grant, also stressing that the economy and the health system work together. In Utah, he stated, both can be done, hence the plan that was created. This detailed plan is entitled “Utah Leads Together” and may be found by clicking here.

“It’s not necessarily a guarantee, but a pathway forward,” Governor Herbert stated.

He continued by stating that this is an action plan that is not the governor’s plan, but everybody’s plan and will only work if all participate. He stressed that all have a role to play and need to take responsibility. Governor Herbert is optimistic about the people of Utah and appreciates the acts of kindness and sacrifice he has observed. He explained that the number of those tested daily is rising significantly, with over 2,000 tested as of Monday.

“The Utah Leads Together economic response plan recognizes the value of facing uncertainty with a dynamic, data-informed, and unified plan,” the plan reads. “It gives structure and order, to what can otherwise be an unclear and difficult reality. The plan conveys three phases of response: urgent, stabilization, and recovery. These phases help businesses correctly balance the health of employees with planning imperatives necessary for continuing operations.”

Other individuals that spoke during the meeting where business owners, Natalie Gochnour and more. Gochnour discussed details of the report and one-page overview, all of which may also be viewed on the aforementioned website. There is also a page on the site where individuals may engage with the task force. Small business owners may find applications for the loans on the website as well and the loans also include private, nonprofit organizations.

The task force plans to host these online meetings each Tuesday and Thursday. Those that missed the meeting may view it by clicking here.

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