Nearly 1.5 Million New COVID-19 Infections: More Stimulus Checks on the Way? – The unrelenting march of the highly transmissible Omicron coronavirus variant is indeed picking up steam both here in the United States and across much of the world—and that likely means more financial troubles are in the offing for the average American.
The United States registered another single-day record of nearly 1.5 million new cases on Monday, which also drove up hospitalizations to more than one hundred forty-four thousand, a figure that hasn’t been witnessed since about a year ago, according to the Department of Health and Human Services.
And perhaps what could be a harbinger of future trajectory of the virus, a top World Health Organization official has warned that more than 50 percent of Europe’s population will be infected with the Omicron variant.
“(Omicron) is quickly becoming the dominant virus in Western Europe and is now spreading into the Balkans,” Dr. Hans Kluge, the WHO’s regional director for Europe, said during a news briefing on Tuesday. “At this rate, the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation forecasts that more than 50 percent of the population in the region will be infected with Omicron in the next six to eight weeks.”
‘Everyone’s Going to Be Infected’
Dr. Shaun Truelove, an infectious disease epidemiologist at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, had an even more ominous take.
“Given how quickly this (variant) is happening, (the targeted vaccine) may not matter because everybody’s going to be infected,” Truelove, a member of The Covid Scenario Modeling Hub, a team of researchers who makes COVID projections, told CNBC.
On top of these grim forecasts, the Department of Labor recently announced that U.S. employers added a lackluster one hundred ninety-nine thousand jobs last month, which was less than half of economists’ expectations. Furthermore, the current 3.9 percent unemployment rate still remains higher when compared to the pre-pandemic 3.5 percent seen in February 2020. Does that mean there could be a push for more stimulus checks?
Stimulus Checks Update: ‘In Constant Conversations’
Although the White House and Congress have stayed mostly silent on the prospect of future stimulus checks for several months, there appeared to be a small breakthrough at a recent press conference in which White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki admitted that “we’re in constant conversations” when asked about more direct payments, AKA stimulus checks, to Americans. It remains to be seen whether that comment will drive more talk in Congress regarding stimulus checks.
Joe Manchin: The Enemy of New Stimulus Checks?
Still, it appears that stimulus checks have taken a backseat to the Build Back Better legislation, which would tack on another year of the enhanced child tax credits—seen in some circles as being the unofficial version of fourth stimulus checks. But that bill continues to be on shaky ground without the approval of conservative-leaning Democratic West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin, who has stated that he will not support an extension of the enhanced credit if there is no work requirement for parents.
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.