Congress continues to negotiate stimulus package as vaccine distribution begins

With many people still laid off and COVID-19 legislation nowhere in sight, many Americans are optimistic that a COVID-19 vaccine will bring normalcy back and stabilize the economy.

United Auto Workers Deputy Legislative Director Desiree Hoffman joined America’s Work Force Union Podcast to discuss progress on a stimulus package and what the plan is for rolling out COVID-19 vaccines.

Stimulus package progress

While this is normally the time when congressmen and congresswomen try to get back to their states and districts, they are still working on a government funding bill and discussing another COVID-19 relief package.

Hoffman said both sides of the aisle are jockeying to get more of what they would like into a relief package.

For most Democrats this includes funding for state and local governments in areas where COVID-19 was or is rampant and whose budgets have been decimated by the pandemic.

Republicans are seeking liability protections for businesses to shield them from lawsuits should a COVID-19 outbreak flourish in the workplace. Many on the right also oppose sending funding to state and local governments who they feel mismanaged the pandemic or their budget, a thought that is common amongst their supporters.

Hoffman said that corporate liability protections would make an Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) Temporary Emergency Standard unenforceable.

Vaccine distribution beginning

COVID-19 vaccine distribution will be beginning soon. The recommendation is to vaccinate the elderly and healthcare workers first, then move onto other front-line workers.

Hoffman said that states are developing their own plans for who gets the vaccine when. She said some states may prioritize essential workers such as childcare providers, teachers, tradespeople and more.

On a less positive note, she acknowledged the reality that only 40 percent of Americans are on board with getting vaccinated. Unfortunately, 70 percent of the population needs vaccinations to establish herd immunity.

She said the UAW is working diligently to inform their membership of the importance of getting vaccinated.


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