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WATCH: White House Stresses Payments Will Come Soon, As Unemployment Soars

President Trump speaks about the coronavirus, as Navy Rear Adm. John Polowczyk, supply chain task force lead at FEMA, listens on Thursday at the White House.
Image credit: Alex Brandon

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Just days after the White House coronavirus task force warned Americans to brace for sobering death tolls, the administration is vowing to provide economic relief to Americans sooner rather than later.

During Thursday’s briefing at the White House, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said his department is working to ensure that eligible taxpayers will receive their first direct payments within two weeks, one week earlier than originally promised.

“We’re delivering on our commitments,” Mnuchin said. “The IRS, which I oversee, within two weeks, the first money will be in people’s accounts.”

The White House scheduled a briefing to provide an update on its response to the pandemic at 5 p.m. ET. Watch the briefing live.

Mnuchin dismissed reports that some relief payments — especially to people who can’t accept direct deposits and require paper checks — may take up to 20 weeks to reach some Americans.

“If we don’t have your information, you’ll have a simple Web portal; you’ll upload it,” Mnuchin said. “If we don’t have that, we’ll send you checks in the mail.”

Mnuchin was joined by Jovita Carranza, head of the Small Business Administration, who said her team is working around the clock to prioritize getting emergency capital for small businesses suffering as a result of the coronavirus.

“I want to ensure that small businesses all over the country know about the Paycheck Protection Program and how they can benefit from this,” Carranza said. “Simply put, the Paycheck Protection Program is to help keep employees on payroll and small businesses open. SBA will forgive the portion of the loan that is used toward job retention and certain other expenses.”

Efforts to mitigate the economic toll of shutting down the country comes as the U.S. suffered a net loss of jobs for the first time in nearly a decade. Ten million people filed for unemployment in the last two weeks alone.

President Trump, Vice President Pence and other coronavirus task force members also emphasized the work being done to distribute supplies to hospitals, including ventilators and masks.

Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

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