According to numerous economists, if Congress does not agree to raise the debt ceiling, the federal government will not be able to pay all its bills. That default, which is projected on or around June 1, would plunge the U.S. into an instant recession.
Sixty-six million people rely on Social Security each month to pay their bills and keep a roof over their heads. For 40% of recipients, Social Security makes up 90% of their monthly income. These payments would be delayed.
SNAP food stamp payments would be delayed, as would Medicaid payments to states and Medicare payments to hospitals and doctors―devastating to health infrastructure, especially in rural communities.
Two million federal workers, 1.4 million active-duty military personnel, plus government contractors would all see delays in payments. And veterans’ benefits, including disability payments and pensions would be impacted.
Meanwhile the stock market would take a severe hit, dropping anywhere from 33 – 45%, wiping out $12 trillion of household wealth, including retirement accounts.
The omnipotent omicron edition. Omicron is exploding and testing is falling woefully short. The U.S. is now averaging 610,989 cases a day – a record during the pandemic – and a 227 percent increase from two weeks ago. Hospitalizations in some areas are rising sharply.
When one digs deeply into the omicron numbers, there is both bad and good news to be mined. The bad news is the sheer, staggering numbers themselves. Industries throughout the country are facing disruption. Millions of Americans are in self-imposed quarantine – either they’re sick or they are just now recovering. Some subway service in New York City has ground to a halt, as have some bus routes in Washington, D.C. — two cities particularly hit hard. JetBlue has cancelled many of its flights for the rest of January. More than 300,000 students in Chicago, the nation’s third-largest school district, are not in class today as the schools are shuttered. Maryland’s Governor has declared a 30-day state of emergency; in California, an indoor mask mandate has been extended all the way to February 15. Hospitalizations in Miami-Dade County are up 550 percent in just two weeks.
Yet there is good news. First, experts predict omicron will peak quickly – some time in the next few weeks. Some experts think it already may be peaking in some parts of the country, such as the Northeast and the Mid-Atlantic. Second, we know that although omicron is incredibly infectious – more so than all of its predecessors – it is not as deadly as delta, which ravaged the country last summer, nor as deadly as delta’s predecessors. Two sets of facts bear this out: On January 22, 2021, there were 251,232 daily average cases and 137,438 hospitalizations nationwide. On January 5, 2022, there were 585,535 daily average cases and 107,094 hospitalizations nationwide. So – a year ago, 1.8 cases to hospitalizations. On Wednesday of this week: 5.5 cases to hospitalizations.
Clearly, people contracting omicron are much less likely to be hospitalized, or intubated, or even die. This is due in part to omicron’s molecular composition, which makes it more difficult to invade people’s lungs, and due in part to the fact that most Americans are now vaccinated. Vaccines work.
Omicron’s escalation – and the fact that many of the more than 58 million Americans who have been stricken with COVID-19 in some form in the past two years will suffer from “long COVID,” perhaps for years to come – serve as a stark reminder that we need to make even more investments in our health care system. The Build Back Better Act does this in a way that will help the most serious COVID-19 patients. It includes provisions to close the Medicaid coverage gap by providing a pathway to coverage for more than two million people (disproportionately people of color) in the 12 states that have not expanded Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act (ACA). It would mean that nine million people would see reduced health insurance premiums under the ACA. And – important for some of the millions of Americans suffering from “long COVID” — it provides $150 billion for Medicaid home- and community-based services.
You can call your Senators today and tell them we need Build Back Better: 1-888-738-3058 (thanks to NETWORK for the use of the number).
The numberof COVID-19 cases that have been officially recorded in the U.S. during the entire pandemic, as of Thursday, January 6. That’s more than any other country. Tweet this.
More than 4,000
The numberof children hospitalized from COVID-19 in the U.S. as of Wednesday, January 5. That’s the highest number since the start of the pandemic. On Christmas Day, fewer than 2,000 children were hospitalized. Tweet this.
8-9 percentage points
Without the continued Child Tax Credit expansion, which Congress has so far failed to approve, poverty rates among Black, Latinx, and AIAN children will be an estimated 8 to 9 percentage points higher than they would be if the expansion continues – 22% rather than 13% for Black children, 21% rather than 12% for Latinx children, and 18% rather than 10% for AIAN children. Poverty among White and Asian children would also rise, but by less. Tweet this.
The numberof Americans currently in quarantine, according to Capital Economics, a private firm. This is causing ripple effects across entire industries, from airlines to mass transit to hospitals/health care, and throughout the entire hospitality industry. Tweet this.
17 percentage points
The share of students performing below grade level in math rose by 17 percentage points among kids who attend mostly Black schools, while the figure worsened by only 6 percentage points among children who attend mostly White schools. Results from a standardized test taken by elementary and middle school students earlier this school year show what one expert said is the most serious “academic achievement crisis in living memory.” In reading, declines were nearly twice as steep for students at majority Latinx schools as they were for children at majority White schools.
According to Household Pulse Survey data collected December 1-13, 2021, of adults living in homes with children under 5, 29.5% were in homes where children were unable to attend day care/other child care due to safety concerns in the past 4 weeks. In 8 states plus D.C., it was 40% or more.
According to a recent Household Pulse Survey, 85% of Americans 18 years old and over have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine. Of the 15% who have not received even one shot, about half said they were concerned about possible side effects. About 42% said they “don’t trust the COVID-19 vaccine.” Less than 10% reported they hadn’t gotten the vaccine because their doctor hadn’t recommended it. And about 2% reported not getting the vaccine because of difficulty obtaining it. Of the latter group, respondents were more likely to be non-White and were much more likely to report a disability.
Columbia University’s Center on Poverty and Social Policy has found that using a higher inflation rate that better reflected the buying patterns of low-income earners would have added more than 3 million people to the poverty rolls.
The numberof Americans who have received assistance from a FEMA program that reimburses families for funeral costs when a loved one dies of COVID-19. FEMA will reimburse up to $9,000, but many families do not know about the program. More than 830,000 people died of COVID in the U.S. as of January 6.