The Dow Jones soared on Tuesday as Congress hammered out the final details of a $2 trillion coronavirus economic stimulus bill that would deliver direct cash payments to Americans, bolster unemployment benefits and boost small businesses during a brutal financial stretch.
The coronavirus aid package would include a one-time payment of $1,200 per person, or $3,000 for a family of four.
“We are working to pass the biggest and boldest financial relief package in American history,” President Trump said at a White House press briefing.
“We want to protect, and we will, all of the things that a person needs protected and a family needs protected,” he said. “We’re working on job retention loans for small businesses, and extended unemployment insurance for laid-off workers.”
The legislation also includes billions for hospital resources as they battle the coronavirus, and support for hard-hit industries such as airlines and cruise ships.
“This package will be the single largest Main Street assistance program in the history of the United States,” said National Economic Council Director Larry Kudlow.
The Dow surged more than 2,100 points, or 11.4% — its best day since 1933 — as Democrats and Republicans neared a deal. Wall Street has been plummeting over the last few weeks amid the coronavirus crisis.
“This is very encouraging,” Trump said of the Dow soaring on Tuesday, noting the stimulus package. “And I think a very big part of it is they see that we want to get our country open as soon as possible.”
Trump said he wants the country to be reopened for business by Easter (April 12), as the spread of coronavirus accelerates across the country and hundreds of people die from the disease.
More than 50,000 people around America have tested positive, and more than 700 people have died as of Tuesday. The peak of cases and hospitalizations in many areas of the country is still weeks away, scientists predict.
“We’re going to look at it,” Trump said of the Easter timeline. “We’ll only do it if it’s good, and maybe we’ll do sections of the country.”
“I just thought it was a beautiful time, a beautiful timeline. It’s a great day,” Trump said of Easter. “It was based on a certain level of weeks from the time we started.”
The timeline is “very flexible,” said Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.
“Obviously no one is going to want to tone down things when you see what’s going on in a place like New York City,” Fauci said, also noting they need more data for other parts of the country.
“What we don’t have right now, that we really do need, is we need to know what’s going on in those areas of the country where there isn’t an obvious outbreak,” Fauci said.
Public health officials and infectious disease experts have said that social distancing needs to be stepped up, not relaxed, to slow the spread of the highly contagious disease.
Herald wire services contributed to this report.