Covid-19 instances in the United States continue to climb – read the latest news – with unprecedented numbers of cases wreaking havoc across the country. The most recent national number, dated January 9, indicated a total of 313,061 new cases. While this increase, which is more than 200 percent greater than two weeks ago, is significant, it is not accompanied by a corresponding increase in deaths. 16 percent more people have perished in the last two weeks. Cases appear to be peaked, but reported cases are generally fewer on weekends, so a more complete picture will be available later in the week.
While the outlook was particularly bleak at the start of the new year, immunizations have remained effective against serious illness. Despite the pandemic’s worst level of cases, Congress has made no attempt to enact another stimulus check.
A more serious concern has been the number of persons who have been forced to take time off work due to the condition. This has contributed to the CDC decreasing the recommended time for disease isolation. Now, individuals are just required to isolate for five days and are not required to test negative prior to returning to work. This has drawn criticism, as individuals may be forced back into the workforce while still contagious to others.
“I do not believe the clarification helped at all and, in fact, I believe it exacerbated the situation,” emergency physician Dr. Leanna Wen, a former Baltimore health commissioner, told CNN. “I believe they should be candid and state that they are unable to do so due to a lack of sufficient tests.”
Will Congress send another stimulus check?
While earlier rounds of the virus have been linked to discussions about conducting another round of stimulation checks, it does not appear as though another is imminent. This comes at a time when many people are feeling the consequences of unprecedented inflation and the great majority of economic programmes designed to assist households have expired.
Anyone laid off will have no recourse to government pandemic unemployment programmes or eviction moratoriums to keep their houses. Additionally, the last child tax credit payment was made on 15 December, and with Congress still debating whether to pass the Build Back Better (BBB) bill, families are unlikely to get a payment in January.
To present, the President has exercised executive authority merely to extend the moratorium on student loans through May 1.
Senator Ron Wyden of Oregon expressed concern about “many vulnerable Americans,” particularly those “with small children […] sliding between the cracks” in reaction to this sparse benefit landscape. Sen. Wyden further highlighted that “January appears to be a difficult month for omicron.”
Representative Jaamal Bowman (D-NY) has made public statements expressing hope for passage of another stimulus bill. Omicron has had a severe impact on New York, and he is hopeful that some government funds can be directed to local businesses and people.
Other Progressive Caucus members have pushed for passage of the BBB bill, which would enhance the child tax credit, make daycare more affordable, and expand access to healthcare. Negotiations on the package stalled earlier this week after Senator Joe Manchin rejected the White House’s proposal. Without Manchin’s support, the bill will never become law.