Terence S. Phillips,
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The U.S. may end up with the worst COVID-19 outbreak in the industrialized world. This is how it’s going to play out.
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As Washington lawmakers push through a $2 trillion stimulus bill, many Americans can expect to receive checks of up to $1,200 for individuals and $2,400 for married couples.
How much you receive varies based on your marital status and adjusted gross income.
Here's who qualifies, and who may be excluded, from the payouts the government plans to send "as rapidly as possible."
As Congress pushes through a $2 trillion stimulus bill, some Americans can expect checks from the government to help them cope with the economic devastation stemming from the coronavirus crisis.
Those payments are expected to be $1,200 for individuals, or $2,400 for those who are married and file income taxes jointly. It also includes $500 per child.
But you have to meet certain qualifications in order to be eligible for the money, based on your adjusted gross income in your latest tax returns. If you earn more than $75,000 as an individual, $112,500 as the head of household or $150,000 if you are married and filing jointly, the amount of those checks starts to get reduced.
Checks will be reduced by $5 for every $100 exceeding those thresholds. It completely phases out at $99,000 in income for individuals, $146,500 for head of household filers with one child and $198,000 for joint filers with no children.
However, you are still eligible for a check if you have no income or if you rely solely on non-taxable government benefit programs like Supplemental Security Income benefits, or SSI, from Social Security.
You also must have a valid Social Security number in order to receive the funds.
If you didn't yet file a 2019 return, the government will use your 2018 information if it has it. It also may use a 2019 Social Security benefit statement, or Form SSA-1099, or the Social Security Equivalent Benefit Statement, or Form RRB-1099.
Some individuals are specifically excluded from receiving payments. That includes nonresident aliens, individuals whose deductions can go to another taxpayer, and estates or trusts.
The legislation calls for sending out the payments "as rapidly as possible." Eligible individuals will receive the funds electronically if they previously authorized refunds to be delivered to them that way. Otherwise, they will be sent out via postal mail.
Congress' coronavirus relief bill would also significantly expand unemployment benefits for Americans who lose their jobs due to the country's recent economic contagion.
Self-employed workers, those seeking part-time work, and workers who quit their job or can't reach their place of work as a result of COVID-19 are among those eligible for benefits.
This is a developing story. Please check back for updates.
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(Bloomberg) -- The coronavirus outbreak is turning one luxury treat reserved for special occasions into a meal bargain hunters can afford.
U.S. lobster prices have plummeted to the lowest in at least four years after the spread of the virus halted charter flights to Asia at a time when sales usually boom for Chinese New Year celebrations.
The fallout has left thousands of pounds of unsold lobster flooding North American markets and squeezing U.S. businesses that were already hurting from lost sales due to China’s tariffs from its trade war with Washington.
“This is like a fatal blow,” said Stephanie Nadeau, owner of Arundel, Maine-based The Lobster Co., which saw orders to Hong Kong shrivel from about 1,000 boxes a week to a total of 120 boxes -- each carrying 33 pounds -- since late January. “I’m about to lay off most of my employees.”
The U.S. used to be the main supplier of live lobster to China as exporters tapped into surging demand from the Asian nation’s growing middle class. Buyers turned to relatively cheaper supply from Canada after Beijing placed retaliatory tariffs on American crustaceans in 2018.
Canada typically sent about nine charter flights a week, with a total of 1.5 million pounds of the shellfish, from Nova Scotia to South Korea and mainland China for everything from restaurants and markets to business meetings and weddings.
But as restrictions were placed on the borders of Asian nations including China to contain the spread of the virus, Canadian product began flooding the U.S. market. That pushed prices lower, said Liz Cuozzo, seafood market reporter at research company Urner Barry, which has been tracking food prices since 1858.
Prices for New England halves -- a whole lobster weighing 1.5 pounds -- have tumbled 17% since Jan. 20 and are currently at $8.10, the lowest for the period since at least 2016, she said. They typically rise this time of year as supplies are tighter before the main fishing season begins. Last year, they cost $10.70, with the 10-year-average at $9.85.
Demand for live Canadian lobster has dwindled to 5% of normal volumes since the Chinese New Year when restaurants started canceling reservations and people stayed home, said Stewart Lamont, managing director of Tangier Lobster Company in Nova Scotia.
Companies are storing inventory, directing products to other markets in Europe, North America and the Middle East, and sending more lobster tails and frozen lobster to be processed, he said.
It’s not just the U.S. and Canada that are affected. Australia counts China as the main destination for its rock lobster exports and its seafood industry will likely see a significant short-term impact, the nation’s agriculture ministry said in a report. New Zealand said it’ll allow a limited release of rock lobster back into the wild after Chinese buyers canceled orders.
There’s a risk that other markets may shut down as the virus spreads, and uncertainty swirls over how many smaller merchants or mom-and-pop restaurants in China may be out of business and not return to buy following the outbreak, said Mark Barlow, owner of Island Seafood in Eliot, Maine.
The Lobster Co.’s Nadeau saw her inventory lose 40% of its value as shore prices dipped from C$10 ($7.45) to C$6, and was forced to sell 50,000 pounds at a loss. She is laying off eight people from her staff of 14. “My customers got creamed and I got creamed,” she said.
--With assistance from Anna Kitanaka.
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