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Amata talks about what American Samoa can expect from coronavirus response

 left, Senator John Thune is 2nd in leadership (Majority Whip), the others also worked on this bill in the Senate Appropriations and Finance Committees.
Sources: Media release from Cong. Aumua Amata's office

Washington, D.C. — Congresswoman Aumua Amata is explaining numerous areas of assistance in the $2 trillion Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES), S. 3548, including personal stimulus checks and unemployment funds, passed by the Senate early Thursday for consideration by the House yet this week.

“This is major legislation of exceptional size and scope as a result of the worldwide pandemic, and it includes financial assistance for people,” said Aumua Amata. “In the weeks and months ahead, there will certainly be new assistance for American Samoa from the CARES Act, along with the two recent coronavirus response bills that are already signed into law. Many of these federal resources will go through the grant process or other consideration by the departments and agencies.”

She continued, “This bill provides for the governors of states and territories to work directly with federal agencies on their assistance needs. I will continue working with Governor Lolo and the Trump administration to ensure the fullest possible access to the final aid package.”

This comprehensive package brings to bear the full resources of the federal government to protect the health and well-being of all Americans. The coronavirus emergency supplemental appropriations package will provide much to state, territorial and local governments and communities, including direct stimulus checks in some form and indirect assistance to individuals and small and large businesses through SBA and other programs.

Personal financial assistance of up to $1,200 per adult and $500 per child are capped per household at no more than $3,400 (2 parents and 2 child dependents).  Pandemic unemployment assistance allows for up to $600 in additional unemployment insurance for up to four months. Both of these important measures of direct assistance require the state/territorial governor to work together with the U.S. Secretaries of Treasury and Labor respectively to administrate this financial help for qualifying individual residents.

“Treasury Secretary Mnuchin indicated most stimulus checks will be sent out within 30 days of Treasury reaching agreements with states and territories on distribution and administration of this personal financial help,” added Rep. Amata. “I look forward to continue working both with Governor Lolo’s team and President Trump’s administration to get stimulus checks and unemployment compensation benefits available to our people as soon as possible.”

A summary of some of the emergency appropriations for coronavirus health response and agency operations include:

$117 Billion for Hospitals and Veterans Health Care

$45 Billion for the FEMA Disaster Relief Fund

$16 Billion for the Strategic National Stockpile

$4.3 Billion for the Centers for Disease Control

$11 Billion for Vaccines, Therapeutics, Diagnostics, & Other Medical Needs

Other Territory highlights as identified by Senate Appropriations include in part:

Nutrition assistance through U.S. Department of Agriculture to Puerto Rico and the territories – $200 million food assistance to Puerto Rico and the territories.

Interior Department – $2 billion in total funding, includes enhance response capacity for U.S. territories and Freely Associated States; provide response resources for Federal land management agencies; and assist the nation’s arts and cultural institutions in weathering this public health crisis.  

•    Office of Insular Affairs – $55 million to assist U.S. Territories and Freely Associated States with needs related to prevention and mitigation of the coronavirus outbreak, including medical supplies and equipment, healthcare services, and facilities.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention – $4.3 billion to support federal, state, and local public health agencies to prevent, prepare for, and respond to the coronavirus, including $1.5 billion to support States, locals, territories, and tribes in their efforts to conduct public health activities, such as purchase of personal protective equipment; surveillance for coronavirus; laboratory testing to detect positive cases; contact tracing to identify additional cases; infection control and mitigation at the local level to prevent the spread of the virus; and other public health preparedness and response activities. Also, $1.5 billion in flexible funding to support CDC’s continuing efforts to contain and combat the virus, including repatriation and quarantine efforts, purchase and distribution of diagnostic test kits, and support for laboratory testing, workforce training programs, combating antimicrobial resistance and antibiotic resistant bacteria as a result of secondary infections related to COVID-19, and communications. Also, $500 million for global disease detection and emergency response; $500 million for public health data surveillance and analytics infrastructure modernization; and $300 million for the immediate response Infectious Diseases Rapid Response Reserve Fund.

Assistance for Fishermen – The bill provides $300 million to help fishermen around the country struggling due to disappearing economic markets caused by the novel coronavirus pandemic. Tribal, subsistence, commercial, and charter fishermen, as well as aquaculture farmers, are all eligible for the disaster assistance.

Disaster Relief Fund– $45 billion to provide for the immediate needs of state, local, tribal, and territorial governments to protect and help recovery from the overwhelming effects of COVID-19.  Reimbursable activities may include medical response, personal protective equipment, National Guard deployment, coordination of logistics, safety measures, and community services nationwide.

Emergency Food and Shelter Program – $200 million for shelter, food and supportive services to individuals and families in sudden economic crisis.

Assistance to Firefighter Grants – $100 million for personal protective equipment for our nation’s first responders.

Emergency Management Performance Grants – $100 million for state, local, territorial, and tribal governments to support coordination, communications, and logistics.

Personal Protective Equipment – $178 million for the Department of Homeland Security to ensure front line federal employees have personal protective equipment.

Veterans – $19.57 billion in total funding to ensure the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has the equipment, tests, and support services necessary to provide veterans with the additional care they need at facilities nationwide.

•    VA Direct Medical Care – The bill provides $15.85 billion in order to support an increase in demand for VA services specific to coronavirus.  This covers treatment of veterans nationwide for coronavirus within VA hospitals as well as in community urgent care clinics and emergency rooms.  These funds allow VA to cover overtime for their clinical staff, the purchase of personal protective equipment, test kits, and other necessary equipment to manage the impacts of this pandemic among the veteran population. 
•    Vulnerable Veterans – The bill provides $590 million for VA to devote to supporting veterans at an increased risk of contracting coronavirus.  It includes funding for the Health Care for Homeless Veterans program, the Supportive Services for Veterans Families program, and the Grant and Per Diem program.  This funding will help veterans get treatment and provide support for those who are homeless or at risk of eviction.  Funding is also included for keeping veterans within VA-run nursing homes and community living centers safe from coronavirus.   
•    Telemedicine – The bill provides $3.1 billion for VA to purchase, staff, and equip temporary sites of care and mobile treatment centers to deal with this pandemic.  It allows for remodeling to VA facilities and state-run veterans homes to address the needs of veterans being treated for coronavirus.  The bill includes funding for VA to expand the capacity on existing IT networks to address the demand in services and broadens VA’s tele-ICU and teleradiology capabilities.  It further enhances the capability for telehealth visits, allowing more veterans to receive care from home, and for providers at home to continue to treat patients through technology.  Additionally, it facilitates VA

Amata's Friday speech on the House Floor supporting House passage of the bill is at end of this page