CHN’s COVID-19: Tracking Hardship December 4, 2020
December 4, 2020
The #ReliefCan’tWait edition. The U.S. this week set three alarming records. New COVID-19 cases surpassed 200,000 in a single day, hospitalizations reached 100,000, and Wednesday’s death rate was nearly 2,900 – all firsts. Meanwhile, millions of Americans are teetering on an economic cliff. By Dec. 26th, 16 million Americans will have lost unemployment benefits. On New Year’s Eve, the CDC’s eviction moratorium will expire. Other help set to expire as we approach the end of the year: student loan debt relief and some paid family leave. Funding for state and local governments that was included in the CARES Act Congress passed last spring is running out – including money to help school systems and provide for public health and safety.
How bad is it? As case numbers spike, authorities are issuing dire warnings about overcrowded hospitals, exhausted health care workers, and expanded lockdowns. With more than 1.2 million cases reported during a one-week stretch, officials expressed concern that numbers could spike even higher due to the recent Thanksgiving holiday. One estimate: 450,000 deaths by February.
Momentum is building in the Senate toward passage of a “down payment” on what’s truly needed. A bipartisan group in the Senate drafted a $908 billion COVID-19 relief package, and Speaker Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Schumer have jump-started high-level negotiations by agreeing to make it the starting point for final deal-making. The package doesn’t include everything we want, and it will not solve America’s long-term health and economic problems. But we need relief now, and this aid, especially with some hoped-for improvements, will help alleviate pain and suffering in the near-term, both by helping individuals through unemployment assistance and by injecting stimulus into the economy, thereby preventing further job loss. The package includes $300 a week in federal unemployment benefits for roughly four months, $160 billion in funding for state and local governments, $10 billion for child care, and $82 billion for education. We hope those numbers will go up. It’s got money for small businesses, health care, transit, and student loan relief. For more of CHN’s view of the need for a COVID relief down payment now, see its letter to Congress.
But one thing is painfully clear: RELIEF CAN’T WAIT. Even if you’ve written before, please tell your Senators that time is running out for their constituents. Click here to send them emails telling them we are facing a national emergency and health crisis, and they must act.