The rapidly evolving COVID-19 pandemic has brought much of the world to a halt. In the United States, from the first confirmed case on January 21 in Washington State, the total number of confirmed infections stood at over 370,000 as of April 6, 2020.

With the increase in infections came stronger state and local actions to impose social distancing on a grand scale, including cancellation of large gatherings, school closures, restrictions on restaurants and bars for dining in, closures of many types of businesses, and stay-at-home orders in 42 states, including both Carolinas. Congress passed three major pieces of legislation in March 2020 to fund the public health efforts to stem the spread of the virus, help those impacted by the economic slowdown, and support an economy in freefall. This issue brief describes how the pandemic is currently affecting North and South Carolina and how these pieces of legislation may assist communities and residents reeling from the current crisis.

COVID-19 is an infectious disease caused by a new strain of coronavirus, a common type of virus that infects humans and produces different kinds of upper-respiratory conditions. The name COVID-19 is an abbreviation for the full name coronavirus disease 2019.

Most people who are infected experience mild or moderate respiratory symptoms; however, older adults and people with underlying health issues like cardiovascular disease, diabetes, chronic respiratory disease, or cancer can develop more serious symptoms and require hospitalization. Even so, nearly a quarter of hospitalizations related to COVID-19 are for individuals without any underlying health conditions. The spread of COVID-19 was first acknowledged by authorities in China on December 31, 2019.