People should start looking for their $1,200 coronavirus payments from the U.S. government next week, U.S. Sen. Thom Tillis said Wednesday.
Tillis said the timeline came from the U.S. Treasury Department, and he discussed the matter during a morning "telephone town hall" with constituents.
"You should be looking for some of those checks coming out and credits coming out next week," the Republican senator said.
That's in line with previous timelines from the federal government, but the details have been something of a moving target as officials grapple with the logistics of sending money to hundreds of millions of Americans.
Last week, Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin dismissed concerns, based on a leaked memo, that some checks could take months to flow.
The federal government has promised $1,200 to Americans making less than $75,000 a year, or $2,400 for married couples earning less than $150,000. People with children also get $500 per child, all part of a stimulus program meant to tide people over as unemployment skyrockets and the economy falters.
The payments are in addition to any unemployment benefits, won't be taxed by the federal government and should go out automatically to the vast majority of people. Some 90 million people will get direct deposits, and 50 million a paper check or, if the government can work out the logistics quickly enough, a pre-loaded debit card, Tillis said.
Tillis has been holding routine town halls via telephone the last two weeks, answering questions from constituents. He also said Tuesday that he hopes the country can talk about reopening the U.S. economy "in the mid to late April time frame."
"Starting to talk about it (then)," he said. "We're not acting on it yet."
Tillis said the country "can't possibly get back to business" while COVID-19 cases are on the rise. But "the minute we see the peak in that curve is the minute we need to start talking about coming up with instructions" for businesses to reopen, he said.
"But not too soon," Tillis said. Even past the peak is "not the time to take the foot off the accelerator" on social distancing, he said.
Tillis also expressed some hope that antibody testing will soon be available more broadly and that tests will show people recovering from COVID-19 are immune to it. He cautioned, though, that there have been cases where people got reinfected.
Longer term, Tillis said, U.S. companies need to "really rethink" how much of their manufacturing capacity, and thus the country's supply chains, depend on Chinese labor.
"We'll get to that," he said. "It's going to be a very important thing."
He also encouraged constituents to comply with the latest Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidance to stay home and to wear cloth masks in public, even if it feels silly.
"Get over that," he said. "Wear the mask ... Don't wear an N95 mask unless you're a health care worker or first responder."
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