This particular variant is known to have more than thirty mutations to the spike protein, which could be potentially associated with a decrease in antibody protection and higher transmissibility rates.
“This mutational profile is very different from other variants of interest and concern, and although some mutations are also found in delta, this is not delta,” White House chief medical advisor Dr. Anthony Fauci said earlier this week during a COVID task force briefing. “These mutations have been associated with increased transmissibility and immune evasion.”
If this is indeed true, some experts are now warning that the variant’s spread could accelerate in the coming weeks, which could potentially mean more business shutdowns and related financial troubles for millions of pandemic-weary Americans.
Ordinary Americans Look to Petitions for Fourth Stimulus Check
With this in mind, there are now even more passionate calls among those who are most struggling for another round or two of direct stimulus payments. One prime example is being orchestrated by a Colorado restaurant owner whose business has been devastated by the ongoing pandemic.
“I’m calling on Congress to support families with a $2,000 payment for adults and a $1,000 payment for kids immediately, and continuing regular checks for the duration of the crisis,” states the Change.org petition, which is fewer than twenty-five thousand signatures away from hitting its ambitious three-million target.
Not to be outdone, there are also calls by the Senior Citizens League for more targeted $1,400 stimulus checks just for Social Security recipients.
“Social Security benefits are one of the few types of income in retirement adjusted for inflation. But soaring inflation has taken a toll on household finances of retired and disabled Social Security recipients,” the Senior Citizens League contends in its petition.
Fourth Stimulus Checks Still in Play
Do, however, take note that Congress already has green-lighted three much-needed stimulus checks over the past year and a half. They include a $1,200 check in April 2020, $600 in December, and the $1,400 payments approved in March under President Joe Biden’s American Rescue Plan.
In recent months, though, there indeed has been a lack of any concrete action in Washington, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that another round of stimulus is completely off the table.
During one particular media briefing this past summer, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki noted that “(President Biden) is happy to hear from a range of ideas on what would be most effective and what’s most important to the economy moving forward.”
Moreover, in a separate briefing, she declared: “We’ll see what members of Congress propose, but those are not free.”
Ethen Kim Lieser is a Washington state-based Science and Tech Editor who has held posts at Google, The Korea Herald, Lincoln Journal Star, AsianWeek, and Arirang TV. Follow or contact him on LinkedIn.