Over the past nine weeks, over 38 million Americans have filed for unemployment benefits due to the economic fallout from COVID-19. As part of Congress’s early efforts to assist those that lost their jobs due to the virus, the federal government temporarily expanded state unemployment benefits by providing eligible applicants an additional $600 per week. However, on a phone call with House GOP members, Senate Majority leader Mitch McConnell said that the $600 boost to unemployment benefits would not continue. McConnell stated that it did not make sense to pay “people more to remain unemployed than they would earn if they went back to work.” On the other hand, House Democrats want the expanded unemployment benefits to continue. This issue will prove to be a hot-button issue during the next few weeks during the next round of COVID-19 relief legislation negotiations.
On Thursday, Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin expressed that there was a “strong likelihood” that another COVID-19 relief bill would be necessary as the economy struggles to stabilize. However, Mnuchin also explained that the administration would step back over the next few weeks to best analyze how a new relief bill should be structured.
One of the biggest concerns amongst the business community is the growing threat of COVID-19-related lawsuits from employees and customers. As of today, 1,300 COVID-19-related lawsuits have been filed and some legal experts believe that COVID-19 could be “the new asbestos.” While Senate Republicans have expressed the need for federal legislation protecting businesses from liability, some states are not waiting for federal legislation. States such as North Carolina and Utah have already passed laws that make businesses and individuals immune from litigation based on others’ exposure to COVID-19 on their property with the exception for situations involving willful misconduct. Additionally, six other states are considering legislation providing immunity to businesses.
As vehicle manufacturers reopened manufacturing facilities this past Monday, Ford Motor Company has already been forced to shut two plants after workers tested positive for COVID-19. The company was forced to shut down its Chicago assembly plant and its Dearborn Truck plant. However, both manufacturing sites have since reopened. UAW spokesman Brian Rothenberg told CNBC, “The UAW is aggressively looking at and monitoring the process and the protocols and how they’re being implemented across the country… Our first priority is the health and safety of our members, their families and their communities.”
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