Pelosi Tells House Democrats CARES 2, And More Checks for Americans and Small Businesses, Part of Ongoing Discussions

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said the key to reopening the U.S. economy amid the coronavirus pandemic is "testing, treatment, contact tracing and quarantine."

In a letter to House Democrats on Saturday, Pelosi said progress was being made on a deal for a fourth coronavirus relief package.

Pelosi said Democrats continue to work on CARES 2, an additional COVID-19 stimulus plan which would include further direct payments to Americans, more assistance for small businesses, and would also expand unemployment benefits.

"I am pleased to report that we have been engaged in bipartisan negotiations on our interim legislation and our progress is encouraging," Pelosi wrote in the letter. "We are also working on CARES 2 to prepare for the path ahead to support the lives and livelihoods of the American people. It is recognized that the key to opening our economy is testing, treatment, contact tracing and quarantine."

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi
US Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi is pictured on on March 27, 2020, at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, DC. ALEX EDELMAN/Getty Images

Her comments came after Vice President Mike Pence said on Friday that there will be enough capacity for COVID-19 testing to pave the way for the first phase of the reopening of the national economy. But Democratic lawmakers and medical experts have criticized the Trump administration's failure to implement nationwide testing on the scale needed.

Additional funding is needed for testing, Pelosi added, as well as for personal protective equipment (PPE) and support for healthcare and other essential workers.

"In this sad and urgent time, there is an immediate need for additional funding for hospitals, testing, PPE and more support for our workers on the frontline," she said in the letter. "Our lives and well-being are threatened if health care, police, EMS, teachers and other essential workers are let go. These vital workers need our help now."

She said lawmakers were also working on strengthening the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) and increasing funding to the Economic Injury Disaster Loans Program.

"In this time of great need, it is with pride and gratitude that I acknowledge the brilliant leadership of our Chairs and the overwhelming support of our Members to strengthen the Paycheck Protection Program and broaden its availability," Pelosi said.

The PPP, which provides small businesses with forgivable loans for operating costs and payroll expenses, was created under the $2 trillion stimulus program to help business owners stay afloat during the pandemic.

The Small Business Administration (SBA) said on Thursday that it had exhausted its $349 billion funding by approving more than 1.66 million loans in less than two weeks. The SBA's website says it is currently unavailable to accept new applications for the program based "on available appropriations funding."

Republicans and the Trump administration are pushing to replenish thee PPP by raising the total amount to $600 billion.

But Democrats are pushing for stipulations and safeguards to be included in the deal that they say would better ensure relief is distributed fairly, including requiring a portion to go to community banks and business owners of varying backgrounds and races.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Advice on Using Face Coverings to Slow Spread of COVID-19

  • CDC recommends wearing a cloth face covering in public where social distancing measures are difficult to maintain.
  • A simple cloth face covering can help slow the spread of the virus by those infected and by those who do not exhibit symptoms.
  • Cloth face coverings can be fashioned from household items. Guides are offered by the CDC. (https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/prevent-getting-sick/diy-cloth-face-coverings.html)
  • Cloth face coverings should be washed regularly. A washing machine will suffice.
  • Practice safe removal of face coverings by not touching eyes, nose, and mouth, and wash hands immediately after removing the covering.

World Health Organization advice for avoiding spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19)

Hygiene advice

  • Clean hands frequently with soap and water, or alcohol-based hand rub.
  • Wash hands after coughing or sneezing; when caring for the sick; before, during and after food preparation; before eating; after using the toilet; when hands are visibly dirty; and after handling animals or waste.
  • Maintain at least 1 meter (3 feet) distance from anyone who is coughing or sneezing.
  • Avoid touching your hands, nose and mouth. Do not spit in public.
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or bent elbow when coughing or sneezing. Discard the tissue immediately and clean your hands.

Medical advice

  • Avoid close contact with others if you have any symptoms.
  • Stay at home if you feel unwell, even with mild symptoms such as headache and runny nose, to avoid potential spread of the disease to medical facilities and other people.
  • If you develop serious symptoms (fever, cough, difficulty breathing) seek medical care early and contact local health authorities in advance.
  • Note any recent contact with others and travel details to provide to authorities who can trace and prevent spread of the disease.
  • Stay up to date on COVID-19 developments issued by health authorities and follow their guidance.

Mask and glove usage

  • Healthy individuals only need to wear a mask if taking care of a sick person.
  • Wear a mask if you are coughing or sneezing.
  • Masks are effective when used in combination with frequent hand cleaning.
  • Do not touch the mask while wearing it. Clean hands if you touch the mask.
  • Learn how to properly put on, remove and dispose of masks. Clean hands after disposing of the mask.
  • Do not reuse single-use masks.
  • Regularly washing bare hands is more effective against catching COVID-19 than wearing rubber gloves.
  • The COVID-19 virus can still be picked up on rubber gloves and transmitted by touching your face.