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COVID-19 Relief Explained by Corpus Christi Electeds

U.S. Sen. John Cornyn (left), U.S. Rep. Michael Cloud, and state Rep. Todd Hunter were on a teleconference with 273 participants Monday, March 30, to answer questions about the $2.2 trillion coronavirus relief package approved by Congress and what it means for the Coastal Bend.

The focus of the CARES Act is to get money to people who need it the most as quickly as possible, U.S. Sen. John Cornyn told the 273 people on a Zoom teleconference call Monday afternoon. The teleconference meeting, which was open to the public, was set up by the United Corpus Christi Chamber of Commerce and included U.S. Rep. Michael Cloud, state Rep. Todd Hunter, and Angela Burton, the Lower Rio Grande Valley district director for the Small Business Association.

“This is an unprecedented challenge for our nation,” Cornyn said. “Nueces County is not exempt. Businesses are unable to operate through no fault of their own. Workers who work for tips have no income. This third installment of a relief package is an unprecedented amount of money, and it was done in an unprecedented short amount of time.”

He addressed the different components of the $2.2 trillion coronavirus relief bill signed into law on March 27 with a particular focus on help for the unemployed and small businesses.

“There has been a surge of unemployment applications through the Texas Workforce Commission,” Cornyn said. “We have beefed up benefits through the end of the year and have a $600 payment on top of that for people who have lost their jobs through this virus.”

For small businesses, Cornyn gave a broad outline of the bill.

“The SBA can be a challenging process to go through,” Cornyn said. “It is Congress’ intention that very few strings are to be attached to the money. We want to make sure when we come out of this virus that you will continue to exist and provide jobs to the people who need them.”

Speaking for the SBA, Burton explained that the rules are still being written for how all this will work. For two of the five components that address small businesses — paycheck protection and SBA debt relief — that should happen within a week. The other three are Economic Injury Disaster Loan, Economic Injury Disaster Advance, and Express Bridge Loan.

Applications for any of these programs can be made online at

“We are trying to get money in the hands of the small businesses quickly,” Burton said.

Rep. Cloud explained why, even as a conservative member of Congress, he felt he had to vote for the largest relief package in history.

“We had to shut down the economy,” he said. “Not like in 2008, where you had bad actors who were bailed out. I don’t think we needed to have $25 million in there for the Kennedy Center, but there is a lot of good stuff that is needed to get things moving.”

He gave a shoutout to the medical workers on the front lines of this battle against the spread of COVID-19.

“Our health care workers have really stepped up right now,” he said. “Part of this bill is to get them more personal protection equipment and to keep testing sites open in Corpus Christi.”

More information about the details can be found on a website his office set up at He especially asked for people to send in suggestions for how the government can improve its outreach into the community.

“The federal government is providing the funding, but it’s you, the boots on the ground at the state and local levels, that know what you need and where there are gaps. Let us know, and we’ll make sure those needs are met.”

Communication is the key in this battle, Rep. Hunter stressed in his update. He also addressed business interruption insurance, which many businesses have but might need help filling claims.

“If you have this protection, you should not be going through any speed bumps,” he said. “You should be able to get what you paid for.”

Builders with an April 1 deadline with the Department of Insurance will be given an extension, he added. Anyone having any trouble with either of these two programs should contact his office immediately. Although neither office has staff on site, they are all working from home.

Call Hunter’s Capitol office at 512-463-0672 or his district office at 361-949-4603.

“Call us, give us your thoughts,” he said. “I want to be sure you’re communicated with. The best ideas come from you.”

All of the officials promised more teleconferences and emails to keep chamber members, business owners, and residents informed, especially considering how quickly the CARES Act was passed into law.

“We knew we had a need for speed, so we pushed it out the door as fast as we could,” Cornyn said. “Give us feedback on the implementation. Tell us where gaps exist. This is the third, but it will not be the last relief package.”

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