Tuesday News: Language barrier


COVID 19 HEALTH ADVISORIES ARE MISSING SPANISH TRANSLATIONS: For some members of the Hispanic community, getting information about COVID-19 has been difficult. "They think that if they get it, it's instant death. They have no idea what to do or what precautions to take, how to take care of themselves or how to get medicine," Ivan Aguirre, concerned about COVID-19, said. As information comes out, this is the reality for many in the Hispanic community. For Spanish-speaking households, it's difficult to translate the information, leaving for a worried community. "All the information I've seen has been in English, and the information I've seen has been what's going on around social media and most of it just seemed to be panic. Nothing is really straight," Aguirre said. Advocates for the Latin community like "El Pueblo" are working hard to provide helpful information, but it's a team effort.

GOVERNOR COOPER REACHES OUT TO SMALL BUSINESS ADMINISTRATION FOR LOANS: North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper has asked the federal government’s small business agency to declare an emergency because of the coronavirus so merchants and firms can access low-interest loans. Cooper’s request this week to the Small Business Administration comes as the state enters the first full week of banned large gatherings and closed public schools statewide. Restaurants, bars and retailers can remain open under his latest executive order, but guidance from state health officials discourage crowds at them. Add suggestions for residents to stay close to home, and the COVID-19 is taking its toll on many businesses. North Carolina “is currently sustaining severe economic impacts from this pandemic,” Cooper wrote last week to a regional SBA director. “These economic injuries and losses to businesses have just begun and will continue through this crisis.” Cooper issued an executive order Saturday that closed public schools at least through March 30 and made violations of assemblies of more than 100 people a misdemeanor.

OHIO CANCELS PRIMARY ELECTION, OTHER STATES STRUGGLING: The Democratic presidential primary is consumed with uncertainty after leaders in Ohio called off Tuesday's election just hours before polls were set to open, citing the need to combat the new coronavirus. Officials in Florida, Arizona and Illinois said they would move forward with the vote — but by early Tuesday morning, the virus was hurting people's efforts to get to the polls. Some Florida polling places couldn't open as poll workers didn't arrive because of fears over the potentially deadly virus. Not since New York City postponed its mayoral primary on the day of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks has an election been pushed off in such a high-profile, far-reaching way. Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine initially asked a court to delay the vote, and when a judge refused to do so the state's health director declared a health emergency that would prevent the polls from opening. The decision was a reminder that the most elemental act of American democracy — voting — will be severely tested Tuesday as several states hold presidential primaries while also confronting the impact of a global pandemic. The contests are playing out as the virus' impact is becoming more tangible with schools closing across the country, workers staying home and restaurants and bars shuttering.

TRUMP'S STIMULUS PACKAGE INCLUDES $50 BILLION FOR AIRLINE INDUSTRY: The Trump administration is asking Congress to approve a massive economic stimulus package of around $850 billion to stanch the economic free fall caused by the coronavirus, four officials familiar with the planning said Tuesday. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin will present details to Senate Republicans later Tuesday. The package would be mostly devoted to flooding the economy with cash, through a payroll tax cut or other mechanism, two of the officials said, with some $50 billion directed specifically to helping the airline industry. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss internal deliberations. The $850 billion package would come in addition to another roughly $100 billion package that aims to provide paid sick leave for impacted workers, though the details of that legislation remain very fluid as it moves through Congress. It’s unclear how warmly the design of the White House’s proposal will be received. Trump has for several weeks pushed Congress to cut or eliminate the payroll tax, which is paid by employees and employers and funds Social Security and Medicare benefits. Many Democrats have complained that such a tax cut would not necessarily directly benefit people who have lost jobs because of the coronavirus crisis. But lawmakers have, in recent days, talked about the need for a huge economic package to stabilize the economy, and it’s likely that some ideas are being revisited.

TRUMP WAIVES INTEREST ON STUDENT LOANS, BUT PAYMENTS WON'T GO DOWN: At the end of a week full of talk about bailouts and stimulus, President Trump said Friday afternoon that he was waiving interest on all student loans held by federal government agencies. Right away, the most obvious question was this: How much would monthly payments fall for the tens of millions of borrowers? By nightfall, the Department of Education had a surprising answer. Monthly payments aren’t going to go down at all. Instead, the entire payment will go toward paying down the principal amount on the loan. The result will be little short-term relief for many of the borrowers who celebrated the announcement. Instead, they will benefit later — say, if they pay enough principal during the waiver period to shorten the scheduled term of their loans. It’s not clear who decided to do things this way and why, or even if any of this was the initial intention of the White House. Establishing an interest-rate waiver that lowered bills would have been enormously complicated: The federal government relies on several outside servicers to bill borrowers and collect their payments, and many have committed errors in recent years.