FILE - Lamar Alexander

Tennessee U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander

(The Center Square) – Tennessee could be eligible for up to $2.65 billion in federal aid to spend on state efforts designed to combat COVID-19 as part of the U.S. Senate-passed $2 trillion relief package, the Tax Foundation estimated.

“The government has temporarily shut down the economy because of this disease, and the government must help those who are hurt by it,” Tennessee U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander said in a news release.

The relief package – also known as the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act – makes every state eligible for at least $1.25 billion in aid. Larger states would be eligible for additional funds based on their population.

Cities such as Nashville and Memphis, which have a population greater than 500,000 people, also are eligible for federal funding. Funding to cities would be subtracted from the amount for which Tennessee is eligible.

A government could receive funding for expenditures that are necessary to combat COVID-19. To be eligible the expenditures must be incurred between March 1 and Dec. 30 and not be accounted for in the state or local government’s budget.

The Tennessee House and Senate passed a budget last week that included $150 million in health and safety funds and $100 million in local government funds to combat COVID-19. It also included a $350 million investment in the rainy day fund.

The CARES Act also includes direct payments of $1,200 to taxpayers who earned $75,000 or less – $2,400 to couples who earned $150,000 or less – in 2019. Every dependent in the household is another $500 in direct payments. The act includes $350 billion in forgivable small interest loans and expands unemployment benefits by $600 per week. Part-time, self-employed and gig workers also will be eligible for unemployment benefits under this bill.

“Tennessee has been tested over the past few weeks, beginning on March 3rd when tornadoes ripped through 50 miles of our state,” Tennessee U.S. Sen. Marsha Blackburn said in a news release. “Not three days later, Tennessee had its first confirmed case of COVID-19.

“Through these trials, we’ve seen the Volunteer Spirit in action," she said. "Our hospitals and care providers have been on the front line of this pandemic, working tirelessly to deliver care to those with COVID-19 on top of routine needs."

Tennessee has 957 confirmed COVID-19 cases, 76 hospitalizations and three deaths, according to the Tennessee Department of Health. The United States has more than 83,000 cases and at least 1,198 deaths.

COVID-19 is a respiratory disease caused by a novel coronavirus. COVID-19 symptoms appear within two and 14 days after exposure and include fever, cough, runny nose and difficulty breathing.

Most people who have it develop only mild symptoms. But some people, usually the elderly and those with other medical complications, develop more severe symptoms, including pneumonia, which can be fatal.

Staff Reporter

Tyler Arnold reports on Virginia and Tennessee for The Center Square. He previously worked for the Cause of Action Institute and has been published in Business Insider, USA TODAY College, National Review Online and the Washington Free Beacon.