Economic Impact of COVID-19
By Rep. Dusty Johnson
It’s no secret, the COVID-19 pandemic has placed serious hardships on many South Dakotans and Americans across the country. From the closing of schools, to the negative effects on small businesses, as well as the struggles of social isolation, this illness is greatly affecting all our day-to-day lives. To mitigate these effects, South Dakota’s delegation is working around the clock alongside our state and local officials to provide relief to those affected.
Our governor quickly called on the Small Business Administration (SBA) to activate the Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) program in South Dakota because of the pandemic. I, along with Senators Thune and Rounds stood alongside her, urging the SBA to approve this request immediately.
On March 14, I voted in support of a comprehensive bipartisan federal aid package – the Families First Coronavirus Response Act. This relief package ensures the continuation of support services, prioritizes testing and diagnosing COVID-19 cases, bolsters containment and mitigation efforts, and creates programs to financially support employees and employers adversely impacted by the pandemic. This includes the creation of a temporary national paid sick leave program and a refundable payroll tax credit to cover the cost that will inevitably be incurred by employers. The Senate joined the House in passing this relief act, and the bill was signed into law by President Trump on March 18, 2020. This relief is in addition to the $8.3 billion of emergency supplemental funding I supported in early March to assist the initial response to the coronavirus.
The Senate and House are working on a third comprehensive package that will focus on the economic impacts the pandemic has had on small businesses, individuals, and hard-hit industries, as well as additional health care resources. We need to ensure any phase three bill is fact-based, fiscally responsible, and helps not only big industries like the airlines and manufacturers, but smaller businesses that are being hit hard by this economic uncertainty. Most importantly, we need more tools to stabilize volatility in the ag economy. Our ranchers and producers were struggling before this pandemic and market conditions have only deteriorated.
While it is the government’s duty to provide assistance to the nation in great times of need, we also have responsibilities as good citizens to take care of one another. Take the CDC’s social distancing recommendations seriously. Check in on friends and neighbors. Make sure those at higher risk in your communities have the supplies necessary during this uncertain time. South Dakota’s communities are strong and will be a significant factor in how we survive this crisis as a state.