Can Pandemic Surge Call For More Controls? – Community News
Stimulus Check

Can Pandemic Surge Call For More Controls?

Earlier this summer, many Americans were in a festive mood. It seemed like the worst of the pandemic was over and the CDC had finally given vaccinated adults the green light to take off their masks and lead normal lives.

But then the Delta variant emerged, and now it is responsible for the majority of US COVID-19 cases. In recent weeks, infection rates have soared nationally, and things have gotten so bad that the CDC is now saying that all Americans, regardless of vaccination status, should re-mask in public (at least while they’re indoors).

Right now, many people are frustrated, scared and tired of dealing with a pandemic that has been raging since early 2020. But what is alarming is the fact that some cities are already imposing restrictions to prevent the spread of the new Delta variant. And with more to come, things could take a serious turn for the economy. But can it get so bad that it calls for a fourth stimulus check?

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Shutdowns can lead to hiring delays and job losses

The main reason millions of Americans lost their jobs within weeks of the start of the pandemic is that non-essential businesses were forced to close or operate with limited capacity. As such, they had to cut lanes to keep their heads above water, nor did they need as many hands on deck as they weren’t running at full speed.

At this point, we must hope we don’t go back to early pandemic lockdowns. But are more restrictions a possibility? Absolute. And that could unfortunately cause the unemployment rate to rise again.

All of this comes at a time when the economic situation has remained broadly stable, but not necessarily improving. Last week 400,000 new applications for unemployment were submitted. The week before, 424,000 new claims came in. This is in contrast to many weeks where the claims steadily came in at less than 400,000. If weekly unemployment claims continue to rise or do not fall, it could prompt lawmakers to reconsider their stance on providing more aid.

At this time, there are no plans to put a fourth round of stimulus checks in Americans’ bank accounts. Likewise, there are no plans to extend the increased unemployment benefits beyond the early September expiration date. But if the outbreak worsens, we could see more help coming. However, what that aid will look like in concrete terms has yet to be determined.

Meanwhile, some people are receiving ongoing aid as part of the latest stimulus bill. Unemployed in states that have not yet ended increased unemployment will receive an additional $300 per week in benefits. Families who are entitled to the Child Tax Deduction receive monthly payments. And the IRS still gives refunds to people who paid taxes on their unemployment benefits last year. Last week, the agency even issued an additional 1.5 million unemployment income tax-related refunds, bringing the total number of refunds in that category to 8.7 million.

All things considered, aid is still being paid. But if the pandemic worsens, we could see more meaningful aid going to the public. We should not necessarily wish that, but it is certainly not excluded.

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Rakesh

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