House Democrats' virus bill: Free testing, paid sick leave

House Democrats have unveiled an ambitious measure to provide free testing for the coronavirus, paid sick leave and strengthened unemployment insurance

For most people, the virus causes only mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough. But for some, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia. The vast majority of people recover from the new virus.

The House legislation related to the virus is slated for a vote in the Democratic-controlled House on Thursday. The legislation includes:



It establishes an unprecedented — but temporary — federal sick leave benefit paid through the Social Security program. Workers with the coronavirus or caring for family members with it would receive two-thirds of their wages for up to three months. The benefit would expire in January 2021.


It provides $1.3 billion in emergency food aid for low-income pregnant women and their young children, senior citizens and food banks. It allows states to provide food stamps to make up for lost school lunch benefits if their children are kept home from school and directs $100 million of the funds to U.S. territories.


Workers laid off because of the coronavirus outbreak are already eligible for unemployment benefits, but the legislation provides $1 billion for additional caseloads and administrative costs to encourage temporarily furloughed workers to obtain unemployment benefits.


The Associated Press receives support for health and science coverage from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s Department of Science Education. The AP is solely responsible for all content.

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