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Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

There are a few provisions for Silicon Valley in the massive $2 trillion package to cushion the coronavirus' economic impact that Congress is on the brink of passing.

Why it matters: Some startups are facing layoffs and shutdowns, and millions of gig economy workers and Airbnb hosts are being strained by the sudden shift in consumer behavior.

Startups: They may qualify for the $350 billion small business loans program that’s part of the package, aimed at companies with under 500 employees. But one hurdle will likely prevent most of them from doing so.

  • Under "affiliation rules” that are standard for the Small Business Administration, which will administer this program, companies with minority investors — venture capitalists, in this case — have to count employees of fellow portfolio companies. This would put many venture-backed startups above the 500-person cutoff.
  • What’s next: The National Venture Capital Association, which has been lobbying Congress to waive these rules, says there’s still a chance this could be amended as part of the guidance Treasury and the SBA will be issuing soon. The association successfully lobbied to remove a provision from the bill that would have required startup founders to personally guarantee their business' loans.
  • Yes, but: Startups still may qualify for other small tax breaks and deferrals baked into the bill.

Gig economy: The bill provides two avenues for gig economy workers to get financial relief — small business loans and unemployment benefits.

Short-term rental hosts, who rent out their properties via Airbnb and other marketplaces, will also get a bit of relief.

  • Hosts may be eligible for expanded unemployment benefits and small business loans, if they meet certain criteria.
  • Airbnb, which has received strong backlash from hosts for allowing all travelers to get refunds, lobbied Congress earlier this month to get these provisions into the bill.

Yes, but: Much of this is theoretical for now — the test will come when companies and individuals actually try to apply for these programs.

  • And if the process becomes messy, it won't be surprising if workers and rental hosts get even more frustrated with gig economy companies for not providing more financial help.

Go deeper:

Go deeper

Updated 6 hours ago - Energy & Environment

Bomb cyclone prompts blizzard warnings from Virginia to Maine

Computer model projection showing the intense storm off of Cape Cod on Jan 29, 2022, with heavy snow and strong winds lashing the coastline. (Weatherbell.com)

Blizzard warnings are in effect for 11 million people from coastal Virginia to eastern Maine as a historic winter storm is set to slam the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast beginning Friday.

Why it matters: The storm will bring hazards ranging from zero visibility amid hurricane force wind gusts and heavy snow, to coastal flooding that will erode vulnerable beaches and threaten property from the Jersey shore to coastal Massachusetts.

Updated 6 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Omicron dashboard

Illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios

  1. Health: Contact tracing fizzles across America — New clues emerge on long COVID — Omicron is finally burning out — It's very difficult to get access to antiviral COVID treatments — Axios-Ipsos poll: Omicron's big numbersAnother wave of death — FDA limits use of Regeneron and Lilly antibody treatments.
  2. Vaccines: Pfizer begins clinical trial for Omicron-specific vaccine — The shifting definition of fully vaccinated.
  3. Politics: Virginia AG says public colleges can't mandate COVID vaccines —Alaska governor joins Texas lawsuit over National Guard vaccine mandate — Navy discharges 45 sailors for refusing vaccine — Spotify to remove Neil Young's music after his Joe Rogan ultimatum — White House: 60M households have ordered free COVID-19 rapid tests.
  4. World: U.K. to lift travel testing requirement for fully vaccinated — Beijing Olympic Committee lowers testing threshold ahead of Games.
  5. Variant tracker
9 hours ago - World

Biden will move U.S. troops to Eastern Europe "in the near term"

President Biden boards Air Force One at Joint Base Andrews on Jan. 28. Photo: SAUL LOEB/AFP via Getty Images

President Biden said on Friday he plans to move U.S. troops to Eastern European and NATO countries “in the near term.”

Driving the news: “Not too many” U.S. troops, Biden added in remarks to reporters at Joint Base Andrew upon returning from a trip to Pennsylvania.