CHN’s COVID-19 Watch: Tracking Hardship December 3, 2021


December 3, 2021

COVID-19 Hardship

December 3, 2021  

The “variant of interest” edition. Omicron has arrived. But we don’t yet know how infectious it is, how deadly, or how well current vaccines protect us against it. We don’t even know how it will fare on a COVID-19 playing field that has been thoroughly dominated by the delta variant for roughly the past five months. 

What we do know is this: until all parts of the world are largely vaccinated, variants will continue to emerge, some harmless, others deadly. On most continents, more than half of the population is at least partly vaccinated. But this is not at all true in Africa, where omicron might have originated. Until we recognize and confront this reality, we will not conquer COVID-19. 

Meanwhile, here at home, the best thing we can do to deal with COVID-19’s impact is – you’ve heard these words – Build Back Better. We are hearing that a Senate vote might take place the week of December 13. That doesn’t leave much time to get final agreement from the House and the legislation on President Biden’s desk before Christmas. But that’s what Congress must do to ensure that families continue to receive the Child Tax Credit in January. Failure to act in time will deny 39 million families $250 – $300 per child, a vital protection against rising prices.

Another thing is clear: the Build Back Better health care expansions will help millions of people cope with the evolving threat of COVID as well as their other health care needs. Click here to tell your Senators to enact Build Back Better NOW. . 


3.6 million 

The number of children kept out of poverty nationwide due to the October payment of the expanded Child Tax Credit. The overall monthly child poverty rate dropped from 13.2 percent in September to 12.8 percent in October. Tweet this.




A recent Nielsen report found that the cost of diapers ballooned 14 percent since the pandemic began. One expert estimates that there has been an 86 percent spike in the need for assistance from diaper banks since then. Many parents say the expanded Child Tax Credit has helped them pay for diapers, among other necessities. Tweet this.


61 million 

The number of children in 39 million families who received the Child Tax Credit in November. Their last payment will be December 15 if Congress does not enact Build Back Better by Christmas. Tweet this.


$55 billion/$15 billion 


The recently enacted bipartisan infrastructure bill includes $55 billion for clean water efforts. Some $15 billion of that money will go toward lead pipe remediation. The Build Back Better bill will add another $30 billion for lead pipe replacement. Tweet this.


3.4 million 

The number of Americans who would gain access to health care as a result of the Build Back Better plan. The bill would also expand health care access for children, make insurance more affordable for working-age adults, and improve Medicare benefits for older adults. Tweet this.


$476 billion 

Drug prices made up one-fifth of overall U.S. health care spending in 2020, or $476 billion in 2018 – an increase of $100 billion since 2014. One study showed that 3 in 10 Americans did not take a prescription drug as prescribed – such as by not filling a prescription or by cutting pills – because of high costs. Build Back Better would bring down the cost of some prescription drugs by allowing Medicare to negotiate with drug companies.


$555 billion 


The amount of money Build Back Better invests to mitigate climate change, including promoting the shift to clean energy and addressing the disproportionate harms that climate change brings to low-income communities and communities of color.



The percent of American Indian and Alaska Natives who said someone in their household has struggled with depression, anxiety, and problems with sleeping, according to a recent poll by NPR, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, and the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. 52 percent of Whites said the same thing. Half of Native Americans said they’re facing serious financial problems.



major new survey released Wednesday, Dec. 1 shows many young people are depressed and troubled about our democracy. The Harvard Institute of Politics poll of 18-to-29-year-olds found 52% believe American democracy is either “in trouble” or “failing” and only 7% view the U.S. as a “healthy democracy.” And 50% of young Americans say coronavirus has changed them. Another 51% report having felt “down, depressed, and hopeless” at least several times in the past two weeks, while 25% had thoughts of self-harm.



The percent of people worldwide who have received at least one COVID-19 shot. Every populated continent in the world is above 50 percent — except Africa, which is at about 10 percent. In South Africa, it is 29 percent; in Ethiopia, 7 percent; in Nigeria, 3 percent.