CHN’s COVID-19 Watch: Tracking Hardship November 20, 2020
November 20, 2020
The Holiday Cliff Edition. Congress will be back home during the Thanksgiving week. So, while there are 36 days from today to the date the last pandemic unemployment checks are sent (December 26), there are only 27 days from when they return. On New Year’s Eve, the eviction moratorium will expire. As we approach Thanksgiving, 26 million adults reported that in the past 7 days, their household sometimes or often did not have enough to eat – 12 percent. Hunger was more frequent in households with children – 16 percent of adults living with children said they did not always have enough to eat in the previous week.
Millions of Americans are poised on a cliff this holiday season. Jobless claims are rising, and pandemic unemployment insurance is expiring. Large numbers are falling behind in rent, and if the eviction moratorium ends they will not be able to pay. And all this is happening as COVID-19 tightens its grip on the nation. Cases are rising steeply; we have exceeded 252,000 deaths and 11.7 million cases. Hospitalizations are taxing the capacity of the health care system; nursing home cases are spiking again. School systems are reeling from the need to respond to the pandemic, as schools and other essential state and local workers are furloughed or laid off, without the funds they need to meet our needs.
It is a shameful failure that Congress has still not enacted more coronavirus relief, because Senate Majority Leader McConnell and his caucus have refused so far to agree to an adequate package. There are now glimmerings of hope that on Congress’ return, there will be negotiations to provide urgently needed relief. If they come to agreement, millions of people can be spared the economic scarring that comes from eviction; hunger can be prevented; job losses can be reduced; COVID treatment and a vaccine can save lives. Failure to act means further widening of racial gaps. Blacks and Latinx adults reported that, respectively, 19% and 22% of their households in the previous week did not always have enough to eat; for Whites, it was 9%. Hunger, housing instability, and education losses are taking a serious toll on our children. (For more about that, see our webinar, Our Children are in Danger.)
Senators’ constituents are hurting. The economy is weakening. During the week they are gone for Thanksgiving, it is a good guess that well over 8,000 people will die from COVID-29 (8,720 died this past week). Constituents are asking their senators (you can, too): do you care? Will you finally act?