CHN’s COVID-19 Watch: Tracking Hardship March 19, 2021
March 19, 2021
The shot in the arm edition. More than one in five Americans have received at least one COVID-19 vaccination; that number is slowly climbing toward one in four. But it is not just tens of millions of Americans who are receiving a shot in the arm – so is our economy, thanks to the American Rescue Plan.
Already, the IRS has sent out more than 90 million stimulus checks. Unemployment benefits are starting to be paid – that includes weekly payments of $300 that will go into the economy soon after they’re received; they won’t be saved or invested in the stock market. In July, single parents making less than $75,000 and couples making less than $150,000 will start to receive half of their $3,000 – $3,600 per child tax credits, paid in installments (monthly if the IRS can manage it; otherwise at longer intervals), with the rest to be received as a refund payment at tax time.
The American Rescue Plan offers hope for those living on the edge. For example, it provides $5 billion in homelessness assistance, more than $21 billion in emergency rental assistance, $5 billion in emergency housing vouchers for those at risk of homelessness. This aid is urgently needed if we are to avoid a national calamity of evictions and increased homelessness, with the attendant spread of COVID-19 that results from more crowded living conditions.
The pandemic has led to another kind of virulence – acts of hatred against Asian American and Pacific Islander people. Anti-Asian hate crimes rose nearly 150 percent in 2020, according to one report.
With the arrival of spring this Saturday, and reports of declining COVID-19 caseloads, Americans are anxious to get out and about. But public health officials are urging caution. While it may be true that total U.S. daily infection rates have declined compared with two weeks ago, new reports are popping up about spikes in individual states – Michigan in particular is being hit hard. But it’s not just one state: as of March 18, 18 states plus Puerto Rico were showing increases in their caseloads compared to two weeks before, according to the New York Times.
That is why it is good news that the American Rescue Plan contains billions of dollars to fight the pandemic – everything from facilitating vaccinations to testing and contact tracing to needed PPE and cleaning supplies and new air filtration systems for our schools.
The poet Robert Frost wrote, “The woods are lovely, dark and deep. But I have promises to keep, and miles to go before I sleep.”
We are not out of the woods yet.