It was exactly a year ago today that the World Health Organization, part of the United Nations, declared that the coronavirus outbreak was a pandemic, meaning it had spread worldwide. The WHO has labeled the disease a public health emergency last January.
But it had been criticized for not moving fast enough to sound the alarm about COVID-19. Governments around the world have been grappling with how to respond to the disease. Their challenge has been twofold, to limit the disease's impact on their people's health but also to limit its impact on their economies.
The United States Congress has authorized several trillion dollars in spending to try to ease the economic problems related to coronavirus.
Former President Donald Trump signed multiple bills last year. President Joe Biden plans to sign a $1.9 trillion bill tomorrow after making a primetime address tonight. It will be his first speech to the nation since he was inaugurated.
The latest stimulus bill passed in the Senate last Saturday and the House voted 220 to 211 to pass it on Wednesday. No Republicans in either chamber voted in favor of the legislation. Some criticized it as being too partisan, focusing too much on what Democrats wanted and spending too much on programs that aren't related to the pandemic.
One House Democrat also voted against the plan but every other Democrat in the House and Senate voted for it. Some saying it was needed to strengthen the economy, save jobs and help people who need the money. Officials estimate that more than 90 percent of U.S. households will receive direct payments from the package.
It will provide additional benefits to people who've lost their jobs, more money for public schools, more assistance for small businesses hurt by the pandemic, additional funding for vaccines and hundreds of billions for state and local governments. But a lot of this isn't spent immediately.
Roughly $1 trillion from last year's stimulus plans still hasn't been paid out.
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