COVID-19 News: Stimulus Checks Arriving and More

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Although good news has been scant during the COVID-19 outbreak, many Americans woke up today to a pleasant surprise in their bank accounts. After several weeks of waiting, Americans are starting to receive their stimulus checks from the IRS. Learn all about that and other COVID-19 updates in the news briefing below.

COVID-19 stimulus checks are arriving

The IRS has begun depositing COVID-19 relief funds directly into the bank accounts of qualifying Americans. The first Americans to receive their stimulus funds will be lower-income Americans who had their tax refunds deposited directly into their bank accounts after filing their 2018 or 2019 tax returns. This means that as many as 80 million Americans may see their payments arrive sometime today. Additionally, Social Security recipients will also receive automatic payments even if they have not filed tax returns in 2018 or 2019. 

Although roughly 80 million Americans will receive their checks today, tens of millions more will need to wait longer. These Americans may include those who have not authorized the IRS to make direct deposits to their bank accounts. These taxpayers may have to wait several more weeks for their stimulus checks to arrive via mail, or they can use the Treasury’s new web portal to update their direct deposit information. To check on the status of your payment, you can use this IRS tool.

Trump’s name on stimulus checks

Ordinarily, a president’s name is not written on an IRS check. The COVID-19 stimulus checks will be an exception, as the Treasury Department has issued a last-minute order mandating that President Trump’s name appear on all checks delivered by mail. Implementing this change to millions of stimulus checks could theoretically delay their sending, and thus arrival, for the many recipients eagerly awaiting their money. Treasury officials insist that no such delays will occur and that 5 million paper checks will be issued per week.

Trump halts World Health Organization funding

The World Health Organization (WHO) has played a major role in shaping public policy regarding COVID-19. The U.S. funds nearly half a billion dollars of WHO’s work every year. President Trump has entirely cut this funding and alleged that WHO failed to assess the early stages of the COVID-19 outbreak in China and provide in-person expert help there.

Trump’s critics see an entirely different motive for his WHO funding halt. Democratic congresspeople have alleged that Trump is using this decision to deflect blame from his administration, which has come under fire for allegedly mismanaging the crisis. Additionally, global pandemic experts have described Trump’s funding cut as dangerous, and top experts at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have pledged to continue to work alongside WHO. Despite controversies around Trump’s handling of the crisis, his approval rate remains at 48 percent.

Trump defers to states on reopening the economy

Earlier this week, Trump said that he had “total” authority to force states to reopen their economies. After facing backlash from state governors for these comments, Trump reversed course and ceded that he will allow states to make their own decisions on their own terms. According to the Constitution, this power has always lied with the states and never with a president, whether Trump or another leader.

What COVID-19 news has caught your attention most strongly recently? Share your thoughts in the comments.

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