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COVID-19 Stimulus Bill Passes Senate

The US Senate has passed in a unanimous vote a $2 trillion stimulus package to combat the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, the New York Times reports. It adds that three lawmakers — Senators Rand Paul (R-Kentucky), Mitt Romney (R-Utah), and Mike Lee (also R-Utah) — were not present due to either contracting the virus or self-quarantining after being in contact with someone who did.

The stimulus bill includes $500 billion in emergency loans for businesses, $100 billion in funding for hospitals, and one-time direct payment to adults earning under a certain threshold. ScienceInsider adds that the bill also includes $945 million for the National Institutes of Health to fund COVID-19 "vaccine, therapeutic, and diagnostic research" and study "the underlying risks to cardiovascular and pulmonary conditions." Additionally, it says the bill contains $76 million for a National Science Foundation program that enables researchers to quickly start field studies of natural disasters and $6 million for National Institute of Standards and Technology for research to support the development of better COVID-19 diagnostics and testing.

The bill is expected to be taken up by the House of Representatives on Friday and then be sent to President Donald Trump, the Times adds.